Ethan Couch, the “affluenza teen,” appealed the four-year prison sentence he was given after he broke the terms of his probation and fled the United States. Texas Judge Wayne Salvant denied the request and canceled another hearing on the matter scheduled for May 16.
The 19-year-old affluenza teen was sentenced to spend four consecutive 180-day terms behind bars. Judge Salvant ordered one term for each charge involving the four people Ethan Couch killed during a drunk driving crash in 2013.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) February 20, 2016
Couch was only 16 when he hopped into the driver’s seat of his dad’s pickup truck and drove down the road at 70 MPH. Ethan’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit at the time.
The affluenza teen wrecked into a parked Mercedes SUV and killed Breanna Mitchell, Shelby Boyles, her mother Holly Boyles, and Pastor Brian Jennings. Sergio Molina, a close friend of Ethan’s, was also critically injured in the crash and will now require 24-hour care for the rest of his life.
Breanna Mitchell, 18, was stopped along the highway after her SUV had broken down. The three other people killed in the wreck had stopped to help the young woman. Molina was thrown from the truck and left paralyzed from the neck down.
The Ethan Couch fatal drunk driving case made international headlines after the trial judge assigned to the case ruled the Tarrant County, Texas, teen suffered from “affluenza,” a condition which allegedly causes the wealthy to behave in a dysfunctional manner due to a privileged upbringing, the Daily Mail reports.
— Jessie Jessup (@JessieJessup) December 29, 2015
When Ethan Couch was ordered to appear in court at the end of April, it was the first time he faced charges as an adult.
“You’re not getting out of jail today,” Judge Salvant said to the convicted drunk driver.
The affluenza teen’s attorneys spent the majority of the 90-minute meeting making an argument that the Fort Worth court did not have the authority to levy such a harsh penalty. The legal wrangling reportedly became quite heated at times.
Tarrant County Prosecutor Riley Shaw rebuked the attorneys’ arguments calling for the immediate release of Couch. Shaw also said the myth that Ethan was deserving of preferential treatment due to affluenza ended with the judge’s ruling.
Ethan Couch is currently being held at the Lon Evans Correctional Center. The affluenza teen is reportedly being kept in solitary confinement at the maximum security prison for safety reasons.
Once Couch does his time, he will be subjected to probation regulations that are consistent with the orders implemented when he was charged as a juvenile. During his initial sentencing, the affluenza teen was barred from driving and consuming or being around alcohol and controlled substances. Ethan will also be required to get and maintain employment.
Ethan Couch’s juvenile sentencing mandates included both a 10-year probation and 12 months or rehabilitation. Because his parents were reportedly unable to afford the counseling services, the taxpayers of Texas footed the $200,000 bill. According to a Star-Telegram report, Couch was undergoing rehab at a facility that charged $20,000 per month for its services.
Couch’s mother, Tonya, was not in court to support her son during the hearing. The 48-year-old Texas woman remains on house arrest for the role she allegedly played in helping him flee to Mexico. The teen left the country after a video surfaced that appeared to show him drinking underage once again. Tonya allegedly withdrew $30,000 from her bank account and called her estranged husband to let him know he would not see either of them again before the trip south of the border took place.
The teen and his mother are believed to have driven a little over 1,000 miles to an upscale Puerto Vallarta resort after they left America. Ethan Couch allegedly made multiple visits to Harem, a sex club, and has also been accused of doing cocaine and drinking beer while in Mexico. Tonya was reportedly forced to cough up $2,000 to cover the bills her son ran up at Harem.
Life on the run quickly went from luxurious to mundane for Ethan and Tonya Couch. The pair left the resort and rented an apartment in a poor area of the city until they were captured and extradited. Law enforcement officers found the affluenza teen by tracking the signal from his cell phone when he ordered a pizza.
If convicted on charges of hindering the apprehension of a fugitive, Tonya could spend a decade behind bars. Judge Salvant will also be hearing the mother’s case in his courtroom. Fred Couch is now reportedly facing impersonating a police office charges in an unrelated case.
[Photo by LM Otero, File/AP Images]