[Marxism] Texas-style justice

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Dec 23 06:47:59 MST 2015


Prosecutor Says No Indictment in Sandra Bland Jail Death
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, DEC. 22, 2015

HEMPSTEAD, Texas — A grand jury decided that neither sheriff's officials 
nor jailers committed a crime in the treatment of a black woman who died 
in a Texas county jail last summer, but it has not yet determined 
whether the state trooper who arrested her should face charges, a 
prosecutor said.

Prosecutor Darrell Jordan said Monday that the Waller County grand jury 
will return in January to consider "other issues" and warned there could 
be indictments. Unresolved issues include possible charges against the 
trooper who arrested 28-year-old Sandra Bland.

---

NY Times, Dec. 23 2015
Texas Reels After Teenager in ‘Affluenza’ Case and His Mother Disappear
By JULIE TURKEWITZ and KATIE ROGERS

It was a case that captivated the nation, prompting a discussion about 
wealth and power: A white teenager from a well-off family killed four 
people in a Texas suburb in June 2013 while driving drunk. At trial, a 
judge gave the teenager probation after a witness testified that he had 
suffered from too much privilege — an affliction the witness called 
“affluenza.”

This month, the case came roaring back after the authorities announced 
that the teenager, Ethan Couch, 18, had disappeared with his mother 
before a hearing that could have transferred his case to adult court, 
possibly resulting in prison time.

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office in Texas’ 
Tarrant County, Samantha Jordan, said that Mr. Couch had failed to check 
in with his probation officer on Dec. 10, but that the office was not 
notified of his disappearance until Dec. 15, leaving the authorities 
scrambling to make up for lost time.

Mr. Couch’s escape scratched at unhealed wounds in the county, which 
includes Fort Worth and is near Dallas. “There are two social classes 
where we live,” said Alexander Lemus, 25, whose brother, Sergio Molina, 
was thrown from the car driven by Mr. Couch and is now paralyzed, 
brain-damaged and unable to speak.

The family is struggling to care for him, Mr. Lemus said. “We are 
Latino-Americans — my mom is a first-generation Latino-American here, 
single mother, four kids,” he added. “What would the American public say 
if I was Ethan Couch?”

The manhunt for Mr. Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, 48, has grown to 
involve the United States Marshals Service and the F.B.I. Hundreds of 
leads from across the country have poured in, but no one is sure when 
the Couches disappeared.

Room for Debate: Sentencing and the 'Affluenza' FactorFEB. 18, 2014
Mr. Couch came under fire this month after a video surfaced on Twitter 
that appeared to show him playing drinking games, which would violate 
his 10-year probation sentence.

After Mr. Couch failed to check in with his juvenile probation officer, 
an officer found Ms. Couch’s home emptied out. Her truck was also 
missing. “With the amount of money the family has, obviously they have 
the means to kind of stay off the radar if they want to,” Ms. Jordan said.

One theory floated by investigators is that mother and son fled the 
country, Ms. Jordan said, but there is no evidence to support that idea.

Ms. Jordan said Mr. Couch’s father, Fred, had cooperated with 
investigators. The elder Mr. Couch, who divorced Ms. Couch this fall, is 
in separate trouble with the law, and faces charges for impersonating a 
police officer after an arrest last year. He is not thought to be 
involved in aiding the escape, Ms. Jordan said.

As curiosity surrounding the case grows, the authorities are asking the 
public for help. On Monday, the local sheriff’s office posted photos of 
a black Ford F-150 pickup truck that belongs Ms. Couch. The truck, with 
the Texas license plate number BC50945, has some damage to the rear 
passenger panel.

On the night of the accident, Mr. Couch and a group of friends stole 
beer from a Walmart and went to his parents’ home in Burleson, Tex. 
Afterward, he and seven other people crowded into a pickup truck owned 
by his father’s company.

Mr. Couch drove the car into four pedestrians: Breanna Mitchell, whose 
car had broken down, and three people who had stopped to help — Brian 
Jennings, Hollie Boyles and her daughter, Shelby Boyles.

Mr. Couch was found to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.24 percent, three 
times the legal limit for people 21 and over. He was convicted of 
vehicular manslaughter. Prosecutors had sought 20 years in prison.

The case made headlines when a psychologist called by the defense 
described Mr. Couch as suffering from “affluenza,” a term used to 
describe the psychological problems associated with children born to 
wealthy families.

“I wish I hadn’t used that term,” the psychologist, G. Dick Miller, told 
CNN at the time. “We used to call these people spoiled brats.”

The judge in the case, Jean Hudson Boyd, was a longtime Tarrant County 
juvenile justice who retired shortly after the decision.

Last week, the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office offered a $5,000 reward 
for information leading to Mr. Couch’s arrest. On Tuesday, his lawyers, 
Reagan Wynn and Scott Brown, said in an email that they had received no 
new information about their client.

Alain Delaquérière contributed research.




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