“Affluenza teen” Ethan Couch is in an adult jail as of Friday evening, after being transferred from the Tarrant County, Texas, juvenile center.
New York Daily News reported that while the teen is awaiting a February 19, hearing that decides if his case stays in juvenile court or not, Couch has been moved to the adult jail for reasons not yet known. According to Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson, the hearing is still scheduled, and the only thing that’s changed at this time is where Couch is being housed.
“The only change that was made in this order was his housing change. We will house him as we do any adult prisoner except that he’s under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.”
Anderson stated that Couch’s demeanor is still the same, despite being sent to the adult jail. It didn’t seem to bother the teen much.
“His demeanor and attitude were much the same as when I saw him at the juvenile detention center.”
Last week, Anderson pushed for Tarrant County Judge Timothy Menikos to send Couch to the adult jail where he would be “in a more secure environment.” Yet, Menikos agreed with Couch’s lawyers and kept the teen in the juvenile facilities.
The judge met with Couch’s attorneys on Thursday afternoon, but according to district attorney spokeswoman Samantha Jordan, the judge didn’t give a reason why he changed his mind and ordered Couch to the adult jail.
Although he’s now 18, Couch is still in the juvenile court system because his crimes were committed in 2013, when he was still a minor. He was convicted of killing four people in a 2013 drunk driving accident, after crashing into innocent bystanders on the side of a road in the Fort Worth area. Couch’s blood alcohol level at the time was over three times the legal limit.
Couch was given 10 years probation by a juvenile court judge, a sentence that the majority of people following the case said was too light for such an extreme offense. Couch violated his probation last year, when he fled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with his mother, after a video was released of him playing beer pong with his friends. He was returned back to Texas in late January, after fighting deportation for weeks.
During the sentencing phase of his 2013 trial, a psychologist testified that Couch suffered from “affluenza,” a term meaning someone who grew up privileged and with a sense of entitlement, which makes them make poor choices.
Affluenza, however, is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a formal medical diagnosis, nor is it mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The term became popular in the 1990s after author Jessie O’Neill wrote a book entitled, “The Golden Ghetto: The Psychology of Affluence,” and used the word “affluenza” to describe growing up in a wealthy family with minimal responsibilities. O’Neill is the granddaughter of a former General Motors president.
Meanwhile, Tonya Couch, who helped her son flee from his probation obligations, remains free on bail after being deported back to the U.S. from Mexico and charged with hindering the apprehension of a felon. She’s on house arrest while awaiting trial, with a monitor strapped to her ankle, but is allowed to go to the Community Supervisions and Corrections Department of Tarrant County each week for check-ins. She’s expected to plead not guilty.
Ethan Couch is still scheduled for his February 19 court date, when he’ll learn if his case is being transferred from the juvenile court to the adult court.
[Photo by Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office]