Texas: ABC News features court deposition tapes of parents of DUI killer Ethan Couch in the “Afluenza” case

Couch Coffin

From ABC News

Never-before-seen deposition tapes reveal new details of how Texas teen Ethan Couch and his parents viewed his privileged upbringing that became the core of his defense in the so-called “Affluenza” DUI case.

Ethan Couch

Ethan Couch

The deposition tapes, which were obtained by ABC News, are from a 2013 civil suit brought against Couch, his parents Tonya and Fred Couch, and the family’s multimillion-dollar sheet metal company Cleburne Sheet Metal after the teenager killed four people and paralyzed another in a fatal DUI car accident on June 15, 2013.

Couch and his parents did not testify at the criminal case that followed, so these tapes show the family talking about what happened in their own words for the first time under oath.

During the deposition, Ethan Couch, who was 16 years old at the time of the accident, described a privileged life seemingly with few rules or consequences. He testified that he did drugs, that he thought his mother knew he drank alcohol and warned him not to drink and drive the night of the accident, that his parents allowed him to start driving by himself at age 13, and that he often stayed alone in the family’s second home in Burleson, Texas.

Ethan Couch DWI killer Fort Worth Tx 121913Tonya and Fred Couch admitted in the deposition that they allowed their son to stay without supervision in the Burleson home and to drive before he was of legal age, but denied knowing about his drinking habits. Fred Couch testified that “[Ethan] seemed pretty responsible.”

When asked if she had ever disciplined Ethan for anything, Tonya Couch testified in the deposition that she would “sometimes … take little things away from him or we would just discuss the problems.” When asked if she could recall the last time she disciplined her son, Tonya replied, “I don’t remember.”

On the night of June 15, 2013, Couch’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit when he got behind the wheel of his father’s red pick-up truck with seven other teens inside after a night of partying, authorities said.

That night, Couch barreled down the road at approximately 70 miles an hour when he lost control of the truck, swerved into a ditch and plowed into a group of people who were helping a stranded motorist on the side of the road, killing four of them instantly, authorities said.

When asked during the deposition if he remembered pulling out of the driveway, Ethan Couch said, “Not really.” The next thing he said he remembered was “waking up handcuffed to the hospital bed.”

Couch pleaded guilty to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault on Dec. 4, 2013. ….MORE