The family of a man fatally shot by his wife at their home in McKinney, Texas last month claims the so-called “affluenza effect” is what swayed a judge to substantially reduce the wife’s bail.
On Friday, a Collin County judge lowered the bond for Morgan Leigh Sims, 33, from $1.5 million to $140,000, the Dallas Morning News reported. Sims, who’s white, is charged with murdering her husband Daray Vontrell Sims, 37, after he was found shot to death at their home on April 20. Morgan Sims told police her husband was abusive and insisted she was only acting in self-defense.
Craig Watkins, the attorney for Daray Sims’ family, expressed outrage at the judge’s decision and alleged the “affluenza effect” is what drove it.
“They’ve seen the affluenza effect in Collin County,” Watkins argued. “We see it when a person of color is killed by someone who is Anglo.”
The term “affluenza” was coined in nearby Tarrant County in 2013 after the case of 16-year-old Ethan Couch, who was given just 10 months probation after killing four people with his car while driving drunk. Couch, now 21, managed to escape prison time after a psychologist argued that his wealthy, privileged upbringing made him unable to discern right from wrong.
The young man was released from jail last month after serving just 270 days for fleeing to Mexico after the deadly crash.
As for Sims, Watkins argued that District Judge Scott Becker had every reason to keep the pricey bond for the mother–of–two, who is also charged with two counts of endangering a child after she fled the home and left her children inside with their fatally wounded father, the Dallas Morning News reported.
“When [police] found her, she had her passport, $9,000 and the murder weapon,” Watkins said. “If she pays a bail bondsman the standard 10 percent,” he said, “she can get out of jail for $14,000.”
Authorities were called to the couple’s McKinney home last month for a possible domestic disturbance. According to court documents, emergency responders arrived at the home to find Daray Sims face-down on the bathroom floor in “copious amounts of blood.” Relatives said the couple had just celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary.
Sims’ brother, who called police told authorities his sister had fled in a Black Range Rover, after which police arrested Sims several miles down the road. A police search of her vehicle recovered a Walther P22 semiautomatic pistol with a live round in the chamber, along with pills believed to be Xanax or Valium and $9,560 in cash.
When asked what happened, Sims told police she had been abused by Daray and requested a lawyer.
An attorney for the accused mother refuted Watkins’ “affluenza” claim, arguing that the judge had reviewed all the facts of the case before reducing bail.
” … I don’t understand what Mr. Watkins means by affluenza,” lawyer Toby Shook said. “Obviously, Morgan Sims told police she was abused by the deceased. And the investigator admitted there were injuries to Ms. Sims’ face and arms when she was taken into custody.”
Sims, who has worked as a hairstylist for the last 15 years, testified in court that she tried to make the $1.5 million bail but was simply unable to. She said she’d asked her parents for assistance but hasn’t received any help.
“I want to support myself,” Sims said.