FORT WORTH, Texas — A Texas teen from an affluent family was sentenced to probation this week after he killed four pedestrians when he lost control of his speeding pickup truck while driving drunk. The punishment outraged the victims' families and left prosecutors disappointed.
The 16-year-old Kller boy was sentenced Tuesday in a juvenile court to 10 years of probation after he confessed to intoxication manslaughter in the June 15 crash.
Prosecutors had sought the maximum 20 years in state custody, but the teen's attorneys appealed to state District Judge Jean Boyd that he needed rehabilitation, not prison. If the boy continues to be cushioned by his family's wealth, another tragedy is inevitable, prosecutor Richard Alpert said in court.
Authorities said the teen and friends were seen on surveillance video stealing two cases of beer from a store. He had seven passengers in his Ford F-350, was speeding and had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit, according to testimony during the trial. His pickup truck slammed into the four pedestrians, killing Brian Jennings, a 43-year-old youth minister; Breanna Mitchell, 24; Shelby Boyles, 21; and her 52-year-old mother, Hollie Boyles.
Boyd said the programs available in the Texas juvenile justice system may not provide the therapy the teen could receive at a rehabilitation center near Newport Beach, Calif., that was suggested by his defense attorneys..
A psychologist called as an expert defense witness said the boy suffered from "affluenza," growing up in a house where the parents were preoccupied with arguments that led to a divorce.
Experts said Thursday that's not a recognized diagnosis and should not be used to justify bad behavior.