The Texas father whose wife and daughter were killed after being hit by a drunk driver criticized Tuesday’s probation ruling sparing the teen repeat offender responsible from prison time because of his rich upbringing.
“For 25 weeks, I’ve been going through a healing process,” Eric Boyles told CNN host Anderson Cooper Wednesday night. “And so when the verdict came out, I mean, my immediate reaction is, I’m back to Week 1. We have accomplished nothing here. My healing process is out the window.”
Boyle’s wife and daughter, Hollie and Shelby Boyles, along with two other people, were killed on June 15 when 16-year-old Ethan Couch’s pickup slammed into them while they were trying to help a stranded motorist. Couch’s blood-alcohol level was measured at the time at 0.24, more than three times the adult limit. Another victim was left paralyzed and one more suffered broken bones and internal injuries.
But while not disputing that Couch had broken the law by drinking as a minor and driving under the influence, a psychologist testifying on his behalf argued that he had developed a condition called “affluenza” because his family’s wealth had led him to grow up with a feeling of entitlement.
District Judge Jean Boyd refused to honor prosecutors’ call for a 20-year jail sentence for the teen, instead ordering him to seek long-term behavior therapy away from his parents. Cooper said during the interview that Boyd was, in effect, sending Couch to “a spa” and referred to him at one point as a “criminal.”
“That’s the incredible thing,” Cooper said to Boyles. “He has prior experiences with alcohol and the law. This is not his first offense. So you have a multiple offender who has killed four people who is not going to spend any time in jail — simply because, it seems to me, his family has money.”
“There are absolutely no consequences for what occurred that day,” Boyles responded. “The primary message has to absolutely be that money and privilege can’t buy justice in this country, that it’s not okay to drink and drive and kill four people, and severely injure another, and not have any consequences. That’s not the American dream that we grew up to participate in.”
Watch the interview, aired on CNN on Wednesday, below.