Ethan Couch, the “affluenza” teen who killed four people in a drunk driving accident in 2013 and violated his probation by fleeing to Mexico with his mother last year, was sentenced to two years in jail as he faced adult court for the first time.
AFFLUENZA TEEN: Ethan Couch’s case is heading to adult court.
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Couch, who turned 19 on Monday, will serve 180-day jail sentences for each of the four charges he faces. He will serve his jail time consecutively, which means he will be spending 720 days in prison, a rather light punishment considering his violations.
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“You’re not getting out of jail today,” District Judge Wayne Salvant told Couch, clad in dark orange prison clothes.
The decision came after attorneys argued whether a judge in an adult court had the power to sentence Couch to serve such a “harsh” penalty for violating a probation imposed by a juvenile court last year.
On Wednesday, his attorneys appealed for his immediate release, but Tarrant County Prosecutor Riley Shaw argued Couch, who recently turned 19, is no longer a minor under Texas law and must face harsher punishment for his violations. The affluenza teen spent his birthday inside the maximum security prison, where he has spent three months in solitary confinement after he was captured in Mexico.
“Nothing I do is in stone, so I might reconsider,” Salvant said. He also promised to review and finalize the decision in two weeks after gathering enough information from prosecutors and Couch’s lawyers.
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After completing his sentence, Couch will have to finish his 10-year probation, which means he is not allowed to consume alcohol or use drugs, and he is also banned from driving. Couch is also expected to comply with any blood, breathalyzer and urine tests. The judge also determined that the so-called affluenza teen will not be allowed to leave Tarrant County without his authorization.
If Couch fails to comply with the rules as an adult, he could be facing 40 years imprisonment — ten years for each of his four victims in the drunk driving crash in Texas.
Judge Salvant also issued a gag order, which means Couch’s attorneys and prosecutors must refrain from commenting on the case.
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Couch was 16 when the drunk driving incident happened. He killed four people and injured his friend after being thrown from the truck he was driving. Tests revealed the alcohol content in his blood was three times the legal limit for an adult driver.
For his crime, Ethan Couch was then sentenced to 10 years probation and a year of rehabilitation. His wealthy parents, however, claimed they could not afford to pay for his rehabilitation, so taxpayers are reportedly shouldering the $200,000 rehab fee. During his hearing, Couch’s camp hired a psychologist to testify that the troubled teenager was suffering from “affluenza” a mental condition that affects some young people born into wealthy families. His attorneys argued that his parents used their wealth and affluence to spoil him, which explains his irresponsible lifestyle.
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In December of last year, Ethan Couch apparently violated his probation after a video of him attending a beer pong party emerged online. An arrest warrant was issued after his probation officer was not able to get in contact with him when the video surfaced. It turned out that Couch and his mother had fled to Mexico and hid at an expensive resort. They were arrested 11 days later. Authorities were able to track down the mother-son fugitives after he used his cell phone to order a pizza.
The affluenza teen has been locked up in maximum security jail since his arrest in Mexico.
— FOX 4 NEWS (@FOX4) February 9, 2016
His mother, Tonya Couch, has been held under house arrest for hindering apprehension of a fugitive. She could be sentenced up to 10 years in prison for helping her son escape to Mexico while under probation.
[Photo by Lm Otero/AP Images]