‘I believe he is genuine’: As 4-time killer ‘affluenza teen’ prepares to walk free, a friend of one of the victims says Ethan Couch is a changed man

Ethan Couch, a now-man dubbed the “affluenza teen” when a Texas judge gave him probation and rehabilitation after killing four people and injuring numerous others during a deadly 2013 DUI crash, is scheduled for release from jail in less than two weeks. Yet, a seemingly unlikely person to reach out to Couch has forgiven him and says Couch is a changed person.

Tim Williams, whose best friend Brian Jennings was one of the four people killed by Couch in 2013 during a DUI crash in Burleson, Texas, said he forgave Couch (pictured left) before he began visiting him in jail, according to the Dallas Morning News. Williams started visiting Couch in jail shortly after his 2016 arrest after the convict was caught hiding out in Mexico. Williams said that although he’ll never forget the way his friend was taken from him, he doesn’t want to hang onto “unforgiveness.”

“I didn’t want unforgiveness hanging on me like a set of heavy chains,” Williams told Dallas Morning News.

Brian Jennings [Photo: Memorial for “BJ” Brian Jennings Facebook group]
Williams, a chaplain with the Tarrant County family court system and manager of the Texas-based nonprofit Reconciliation Institute, said it wasn’t easy getting Couch to open. Yet, he feels his weekly visits with Couch helped Couch on up to his responsibility.

“If you imagine building a house with 20,000 bricks, one visit with Ethan might put two or three bricks in the wall.”

Brian Jennings was killed in 2013 by drunk driver Ethan Couch. The damage to Jennings’ truck, pictured, was substantial. [Photo: Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office]
According to the DailyMailTV, Williams said that Couch even wants to be a voice in assisting others.

“He has expressed some desire to assist others. My impression is he has no wish to go and do the big stuff but rather to say, ‘Hey, kids, don’t do what I did. Don’t think like I thought. Don’t believe you’re going to get away with it’…..I believe he is genuine in what he says.”

The remnants of the red pickup truck Ethan Couch drove on the night of the accident. [Photo: Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office]
Yet, Williams indicated that although he forgave Couch long ago, he’ll never forget who is or what he did, according to NBC. With the apparent changes that Williams said he saw in Couch, however, he feels the “affluenza” man can make something positive of his life.

“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…There is a question of who was Ethan when the crime happened and then the question of who is Ethan today. 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.”

In this photo made Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, a cross stands marking the area where teenager Ethan Couch caused a 2013 drunken-driving wreck that killed four, in Burelson, Texas. Long before Ethan Couch and his family became notorious for using an affluenza defense in his deadly drunken-driving crash, they had multiple run-ins with the law, each time flouting authority or relying on their wealth to get them out of trouble. [AP Photo/LM Otero]
Couch, now 20, had an opportunity that some other young people in his situation never had. He killed four people and caused life-long injuries to others after he crashed his father’s truck. Former Texas District Judge Jean Boyd allowed him to avoid jail by completing 10 years of probation and enrolling in a rehabilitation center.

One of the stipulations of his probation was that Couch to abstain from drinking alcohol. Yet, within a few years of his conviction, a video surfaced, showing someone that appeared to be Couch engaging in a game of “beer pong” with others. As the video quickly gained attention, Couch and his mother, Tonya, snuck away from their Tarrant County home in the middle of the night and fled to Mexico. Within a few weeks, mom and son were caught in Puerto Vallarta, a Mexican resort town in Jalisco.

Upon his return to the U.S. in 2016, Couch was sentenced to serve two years behind bars. He’s now up for release, but the tragic mess he left behind is a stark reminder that he took several lives in what could have been a preventable situation.

Slain victims of the 2013 tragedy include:

  • Breanna Mitchell
  • Brian Jennings
  • Hollie Boyles
  • Shelby Boyles

The crash also left numerous people injured, including Sergio Molina, who suffered a permanent brain injury and was paralyzed from the waist down.

Sergio Molina is pushed out of juvenile court by his mother, Maria Lemus followed by his brother Alex Lemus, after a hearing for Ethan Couch Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Fort Worth, Texas. Molina was a victim of the fatal drunken-driving wreck in 2013 that killed four people for which Couch was convicted of causing. [AP Photo/LM Otero]
“Take a look,” Alex Lemus said in 2016, according to the Washington Post. “You have not gone to my house to see what we have to change, to see what we do every day with my brother in order for him to stay stable, to keep breathing….My brother is doing more than probation.

Couch is scheduled for release on April 2.

[Feature Photo: Ethan Couch, Sergio Molina via AP/LM Otero]