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A tragedy with no justice

POSTED: December 19, 2013 4:13 p.m.

Eric Boyles grew up in Springfield. His family still lives here. He has gone on to make a good life for his family as he works for a large corporation. That good life came to a screeching halt last June when his wife and daughter, along with two others, were killed in an automobile wreck.


No, they were not in an automobile. They were standing in their driveway waiting with a young lady, who had a flat tire, for her mother to come pick her up. A youth minister stopped by to see if he could help. Then came the 16-year-old, reportedly driving 70 miles per hour and under the influence, three times the legal limit, and ran off the road and killed these four people.


The young man, Ethan Couch, pled guilty to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury (two young people in Couch’s vehicle were injured, one paralyzed).


Following a defense based on “affluenza,” the judge sentenced Couch to 10 years probation, and admission to a treatment facility. All of this is bad enough and then you learn that the treatment facility will cost the family $1,232.87 a day. It would appear that he will be able to uphold his diagnosis of “affluenza” in such a posh facility. It is located near Newport Beach, Calif., and offers among other things horseback riding and cooking classes.


The record shows that this young man had had previous incidents with the law, involving drunk driving. The family always paid him out of trouble. He was driving a company truck (his father’s company) with a restricted license.


Their money can get him off from real punishment once again.  What about Eric Boyles and his loss of his wife and daughter? What about the youth pastor who leaves behind a wife and three children? What about the mother who lost her daughter?


The judge, Jean Boyd, seems to have had concern only for the young man to be able to continue his ”affluenza”-style life. What was her concern for the victims and their families? None it seems.


I have a question or two: parents, Fred and Tonya Couch, owners of Cleburne Metal Works; if they failed in proper care and direction of their child, why not charge them with the event or at least child neglect and abuse?


I would also inquire as to why a crime of this magnitude (previous record, driving under the influence, excessive speed, killing four and injuring two) did not put this case into adult court where it belongs, rather than juvenile court. For what it is worth, in my opinion, he lost his entry into juvenile court when he decided to act in the manner he did. Another case of the influence of money?


What did Eric want/expect out of a trial? According to his interviews on TV, he wanted some measure of justice, which ought to include some form of punishment. He got no such measure. The young man will go for an indeterminate time to a posh treatment facility.


When I first saw this on TV, I was out raged (still am) and concerned that this failure of the justice system in Burleson-Tarrant County, Texas, be known by all. I have been pleased to see that all networks and major cable sources have featured this. My favorite news source, Fox, has had it featured on four or five of their feature news/opinion shows. So maybe the world does know.


I intend to write a letter to the Star-Telegram, Fort Worth Texas (email: letters@star-telegram.com) and the Burleson Star (email: mailto:burlesonstar@thestargroup.com). I will say too that we, in Georgia, do not appreciate their system of non-justice and the way they let the rich pay out the poorly-reared children that know no limits on the their desires for fun and free reign to anything  they wish. I must add that an Internet search of the Star-Telegram and the Burleson Star have found many local expressions of outrage over this court’s handling of Ethan Couch.


There is also reported two lawsuits have been filed against the Couchs, one by the family of the young lady who had stopped due to a flat tire and one by the family of the young man who was riding in the Couch’s truck and is paralyzed.


And, during Christmas, I will visit with Eric and his mother, Mary Boyles, and sister, Sharron, and brother, Al. I visited after the deaths, while Eric was here. His wife and daughter are buried in Kieffer cemetery in Springfield.


Eric is a strong young man of faith. He has family support to help him through. I hope that he can find some additional peace here in his hometown where he knows folks love him and his family and believe Texas justice failed him, but we will not fail him. Yes, Eric, we care and will be here for you and your daughter as you are now trying to understand the why of all of this. We hope you can find your measures of faith to bring you to understand that this world is still in God’s hands and he has a purpose of the good and the bad.

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