December 13th, 2013
10:23 PM ET

A new perspective on the "affluenza" case: Sergio Molina's story

A judge in Texas sentenced 16-year-old Ethan Couch to ten years of probation for the crash that killed four people. His lawyers argued he is a victim of a so-called condition called 'affluenza,' a theory that Couch isn't really to blame for his actions because his rich parents never set limits for him and he never learned about consequences. Sergio Molina was riding in the back of Couch's truck that night. He survived the accident, but he is suffering unimaginable consequences and his life will never be the same. Gary Tuchman has his story.


Anderson discussed this case with criminal defense attorney Brian Wice, Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin and Syracuse University professor Boyce Watkins.
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Filed under: "Affluenza" • Boyce Watkins • Gary Tuchman • Jeffrey Toobin
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Jim Bolger

    This story is about the kid who once played soccer and had his whole life in front of him, and now, has a whole new life in front of him. I hope there is some restoration of movement as time goes on. This kid's only crime is he got into a car.
    Funny but the decision, while unpopular, opens the flood gates for what matters and is necessary: liability. Withhold judgment until the civil process is done.

    December 19, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • ramwea

      am sorry, but I don't think Sergio is entitled to anything. He is as guilty as anyone of the other teenagers that were in that truck for the accident as well a his own injuries. Why was he at the Couch home? Was he drinking and doing drugs also? Did he try to stop Ethan from driving? It was his choice to get in that truck. I have so much sympathy for him and his family, but this was a consequence of his own actions, The Couch parents have been put on trail for their parenting, but the rest of these teens get a pass? I don't think so! If one of them would have stood up to Ethan and taken his keys from him this whole accident would have been prevented. It is not good enough to teach our kids not to drink and drive, but to prevent it if they can. DO NOT get in the vehicle with a drunk!

      October 18, 2015 at 1:47 pm |
      • robbuntyn

        alright let me enlighten you real quick, Sergio and I have been best friends since we were 8 years old here is what happened cause another best friend of mine was in that crash unharmed and also changed his life forever, Sergio never did drugs he rarely ever drank he was 15 years old, he refused to get in the bed of the truck but Ethan threatened him and the other kid soliman with a weapon and forced them back there. It's easy to say you should take the keys away and prevent it from happening but as well all know ethan does not take no for an answer. So I hope this made you re think your response because it was not even close to accurate not trying to sound rude, I just came across this and wanted to give you my input / THE facts.

        December 15, 2015 at 5:15 pm |
  2. Kymburrli

    GRRRRR...WHY was Sergio riding with a DRUNK driver in the first place?

    December 19, 2013 at 4:14 am |
  3. Daniel Chiang

    In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. He boasts of the carvings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord. In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his ememies. He says to himself, "Nothing will shake me; I'll always be happy and never have trouble." Psalms 10: 2~6

    December 18, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  4. Concepcion Diancin

    It is with sadness and exasperation that I view this case! It is a miscarriage of justice !

    December 18, 2013 at 7:33 am |
  5. Mari H.

    The judge should've made the cost of Sergio's care a prerequisite of the sentence~a tragic story made more tragic by this judge's decision~SMDH!

    December 18, 2013 at 2:31 am |
  6. Klaus

    I just don't buy it. What has our justice system become? What was the judge thinking? What happened to letting common sense prevail, and let the crime fit the time? I can not imagine the pain the victims family are feeling, and this judgment just adds more salt to the wound. Shame.

    December 17, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  7. jana

    I dont buy this crap. I DO believe in putting younger people in more of a rehab type setting rather than hard prison. However that "rehab" should be in a redemption (pay dues to society) and therapy type of rehab to get them on a better path but a long probation. AND that type of sentence should be for all young people regardless of socioeconomic status, including race, culture, etc.

    December 16, 2013 at 4:21 pm |

    What about the thousands of "children" raised in abusive or violent homes or drug sick homes who have given harsh sentences? even tried as adults....they should be the first to get a pass or at least a rehab camp. with life lessons that were missed out at home.

    December 16, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Deanna

      My thoughts exactly. This is outrageous

      December 17, 2013 at 7:30 am |
  9. Jeff Coe

    This is just a sad joke that money, his rich parents paid for. So will they come up with poverenza for those who are poor and impoverished that happen to kill others (by accident). It's just another issue where the wealthy and their money buys their way and where law and politics continues to be bought out.

    December 16, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  10. A. Gallo

    Should not this boys parents be charged with an accessory to the crime if it is the defense that it was ultimately his parents' fault for indulging him and not providing bo7ndaries or consequences?

    December 16, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  11. Sarah Beckham

    Apparently, the Judge believes in 'Affluenza' as well by the sentence she gave.

    Unfortunate. Governor Perry...what say you?

    One's Life is not worth very much in Texas.

    December 14, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  12. Morris Mitchell

    The problem with this 16 year old is he was drunk and killed four people and should get every measure of the law, meaning prison.
    If not this will only challenge the law itself and the privileged against the working class. The fat cats against the less fortunate.
    The law is supposed to be for all of us not the wealthy and powerful.
    My question is this country going to truly live by the promises of fairness for all or just the power mongers.
    We should question our culture and promise of fairness and equality for all.

    December 14, 2013 at 9:47 am |

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