'Affluenza' Crash Victim's Family Speaks Out | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

'Affluenza' Crash Victim's Family Speaks Out

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    The mother and sister of Brian Jennings (pictured), a youth pastor killed in a crash caused by "affluenza" teen Ethan Couch in 2013, speak about the incident and its aftermath.

    Two relatives of a youth pastor killed in the drunken driving wreck that thrust "affluenza teen" Ethan Couch into the national spotlight told NBC News they're hurt but not surprised to learn Couch violated his probation.

    The 18-year-old Couch was spared prison time for the 2013 crash that killed Brian Jennings and three other people. Couch was serving 10 years of probation when he and his mother fled to Mexico sometime in late November. According to the sheriff, they had "something that was almost akin to a going-away party before they left town."

    "It's definitely set my healing back," said Jennings' sister, Christy McCarty. "It's hard to move forward with the healing process when you hear about something like this. It just brings everything to the surface."

    During the trial, Couch's attorneys invoked an "affluenza" defense, claiming the teen had been coddled by wealthy parents and failed to learn right from wrong. McCarty said she was taken aback when the term was mentioned in court.

    Raw: 'Affluenza' Crash Victim's Family Speaks Out

    [DFW] Raw: 'Affluenza' Crash Victim's Family Speaks Out
    The mother and sister of Brian Jennings, a youth pastor killed in a crash caused by "affluenza" teen Ethan Couch in 2013, speak about the incident and its aftermath. (Published Monday, Jan. 4, 2016)

    "It was ridiculous. I think everybody in that courtroom felt the same," she said. "After that verdict, we were just speechless."

    Although Jennings' family was upset by the outcome of the trial, his mother, Janet Henson, said they found a way to accept it, at least, initially.

    "Brian would have wanted this — for Ethan to have a second chance," Henson said. "And he did have it."

    Couch made headlines again when a video surfaced on social media appearing to show him at a party where people were drinking. Not long after the video was released, Couch missed a mandatory probation meeting and was later discovered to have fled to Mexico with his mother.

    Henson said the family was upset but not surprised to learn Couch had violated the terms of his probation.

    "I expected him to continue this behavior, just from the court and his previous behavior," she said. "It really kind of hurts to watch."

    McCarty said it's hard to not be angered by Couch's apparent lack of remorse.

    "When the video came out on Twitter, I was mad," she said. "And then you find out he flees to Mexico with his mom and all the events after that."

    Because Couch was 16 at the time of the crash, his case has been handled by juvenile court. Authorities are seeking to transfer the case to adult court and a hearing was originally scheduled for Jan. 19.

    McCarty said she wants to see Couch tried as an adult. Henson agreed, saying Couch ruined his second chance.

    "Obviously, the last week or two proves it was the wrong decision for him," Henson said. "I feel like the system failed."

    Henson and McCarty said they hope to finally see Couch disciplined and out of the news.

    "I just feel like it's time for Ethan to face the punishment, that he should be charged for what he's doing now," Henson said.

    Jennings' family said the hardest part is living without their loved one.

    "Brian could light up a room," Henson said. "He was friends to so many people and Brian loved everybody. I love him more every day."

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