“Affluenza Teen” Ethan Couch has been released from prison after serving two years for a 2013 drunk-driving incident that left four people dead, CNN is reporting.
Couch, 20, who was 16 at the time of his crimes, walked out of the Tarrant County Jail in Fort Worth, Texas, a free man Monday morning, after successfully completing his 720 days for crimes related to the fatal crash (but not the crash itself).
Back on June 15, 2013, as the New York Times would later report, Couch and some of his friends stole beer from an area Wal-Mart and then went to his parents’ home for a party. Later that night, Couch, who had a blood alcohol level of.24 (nearly three times Texas’ legal limit), Couch and some friends piled into his father’s pickup truck. Couch swerved off the road, killing four pedestrians who had stopped to help a stranded motorist. Nine people were injured, including two passengers in Couch’s truck. One of those passengers was left permanently paralyzed.
During his trial and sentencing, Couch became the subject of international headlines after a psychologist testified that he had “affluenza” — a portmanteau of the words “affluence” and “influenza.” In other words, so wealthy and coddled was Couch by his parents, who refused to set limits for the lad or teach him accountability, that he completely failed to understand that he was even capable of committing a crime.
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A judge agreed with the psychologist’s call for leniency, and instead of sentencing the teen to prison (he could have gotten as much as 20 years), ordered him instead to a secure rehabilitation facility for an unspecified period of time, as well as giving him probation.
The sentence, considered light by many, set off international condemnation, with many seeing the justice system as giving a wealthy, coddled white teen a pass for heinous crimes.
Two years later — in December 2015 to be specific — Couch entered the news again when images and video began circulating on social media that appeared to show Couch drinking alcohol, putting him in violation of the terms of his probation. Couch and his mother, Tonya, disappeared, and were found weeks later in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Following legal maneuvering and attempts to evade being brought back to the States, Couch was eventually sent back to Texas. There, he was sentenced to four consecutive terms of 180 days in jail (one term for each of the 2013 car crash victims) equaling two years in jail, as KDFW-TV (Dallas) reported at the time.
Now a free man, Couch will still have to serve ten years’ probation. During that time, he will not be allowed to drink, use drugs, or drive. He’ll also have to meet with a probation officer regularly and get a job.
Meanwhile, Couch’s partner-in-crime during his attempted escape to Mexico, his mother Tonya, is facing legal troubles of her own. Last week, as the Dallas Morning News reported, Mrs. Couch was arrested after failing a urinalysis test. She’s currently out on bond while she awaits trial for her 2015 actions, and as part of her bond conditions she is forbidden from drinking alcohol.