Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

September 12, 2013

Burleson teen charged with four counts of manslaughter

Fatal wreck followed Walmart theft

The Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office formally charged a 16-year-old Burleson boy with four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault on Wednesday.

Ethan Anthony Couch was the driver of a Ford pickup involved in a June 15 traffic accident that left four dead and several injured.

Couch appeared Wednesday with his parents at the Scott D. Moore Juvenile Justice Center for a detention hearing at which district attorney officials requested that he remain in custody pending trial.

The judge instead released Couch to his parent’s custody but required him to wear an ankle monitor.

The district attorney’s office, according to a Wednesday press release, plans to seek a 20-year sentence for Couch. Pending approval of the district attorney’s request by the grand jury, Couch could serve up to 20 years in jail if convicted.

Officials said that no trial date has been set.

Because Couch’s case is pending, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office declined to comment further on the details of the case.


The wreck

Couch was allegedly driving westbound on Burleson-Retta Road shortly before midnight on June 15 with seven other passengers in his truck. 

Couch’s truck allegedly struck a Mercury Mountaineer, which earlier ran off the road into a culvert because of a blowout. Three people were at the scene standing by the Mercury to assist the driver, Breanna Mitchell, 24, of Lillian. 

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson, during a July press conference, said that accident investigations indicate that Couch’s truck clipped the rear of Mitchell’s SUV before running into and killing the four individuals. 

Killed were Mitchell; Alsbury Baptist Church youth minister Brian Jennings, 43, of Burleson; Hollie Boyles, 52, of Burleson; and her daughter, Shelby Boyles, 21, of Burleson.

Investigation also shows that Couch was driving 68 to 70 mph in a 40 mph zone and had a blood alcohol level of .24, three times the legal limit, at the time of the crash, Anderson said.

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