To most of the world, he’s become known as the “Affluenza Teen” but for Tim Williams, now 20-year-old Ethan Couch is simply Ethan.
For the last two years, Williams says he’s visited Couch almost every week at the Tarrant County Correction Center, where Couch is serving a two-year sentence ending April 2.
The relationship they’ve developed is especially surprising since it was Williams’ childhood friend Brian Jennings, who was among those killed by Couch in 2013.
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“The fact is – he caused my best friend’s wife to be a widow, he caused my best friend’s kids to not have a dad,” said Williams.
Investigators concluded Couch was drunk and traveling at speeds reaching 70-miles per hour when he hit and killed four people on June 15, 2013. Among those killed, was 24-year-old Breanna Mitchell, whose SUV had broken down. 52-year-old Hollie Boyles, her daughter Shelby Boyles, 21, and 41-year-old Brian Jennings had stopped to help Mitchell and were also killed.
“There is a question of who was Ethan when the crime happened and then the question of who is Ethan today,” said Williams.
Williams say he was angered by a judge’s 2013 decision to not sentence Ethan to any jail time. And, then in 2015, when Ethan was captured after violating his probation and fleeing to Mexico, Williams began to wonder about the kid who killed his friend.
“I just felt I need to know who this guy is, I need to see where he is, I need to know if there is any hope for him,” said Williams.
And so began an unlikely relationship. With a background in ministry, Williams became a visiting chaplain at the Tarrant County Correction Center and started seeing Couch for 30 mins, nearly every week since April 2016.
“I think that Ethan is now a young man that has the potential to bring life, to be quote – the good citizen, the good friend, a good man and maybe someday a good father,” said Williams.
Williams says in the last six months Ethan has grown, showing remorse for his actions and accepting William’s own forgiveness.
“My opinion today is that Ethan is on a path that Brian would be proud of,” Williams said. "I don't know how Ethan is going to be when he gets out, my hopes, my prayers are he is really transformed, as I think he is."
On April 2, Ethan Couch is set to be released from jail and while Williams doesn’t venture to guess what the future holds, he believes Couch is leaving jail a different person.