Texas judge sends ‘affluenza’ teen’s case to adult system


America’s “affluenza” teen had his case transferred to the adult court system on Friday, where 18-year-old Texan Ethan Couch faces decades behind bars if he violates the probation deal that kept him out of prison after he killed four people while driving drunk.

Judge Tim Menikos in Fort Worth transferred probation supervision for Couch, who was convicted in juvenile court in 2013 on charges related to the crash earlier that year, when he was 16. Couch will remain in custody at the Tarrant County jail as procedural matters are sorted out, the judge said.  

In either the adult or juvenile system, Couch is set to serve 120 days in jail for violating terms of the probation deal by fleeing to Mexico last year. He is not eligible for release on bond in the juvenile system, while that option is available in the adult system.

Prosecutors wanted the case moved to the adult system, where Couch could serve up to 40 years in prison for any subsequent probation violation.

At his trial in juvenile court in 2013, a psychologist testified for the defense that Couch was so spoiled he could not tell right from wrong. The psychologist described the affliction as “affluenza,” a term that quickly became a media buzzword.

Couch was sentenced to probation, during which he was to remain alcohol- and drug-free. The sentence sparked outrage from critics who ridiculed the affluenza defense and said his family’s wealth helped the teen stay out of jail.

Couch has been in custody in Tarrant County, where Fort Worth is located, since he was brought back from Mexico last month. With his mother, Tonya Couch, he fled the state in December, apparently to avoid arrest for violating the probation deal after video on social media appeared to show him at a party where alcohol was being consumed.

Couch’s intoxication manslaughter case will likely be assigned to a district court judge, who could release him on bond or order him to serve up to 120 days in jail as a condition of release, according to Tarrant County district attorney spokeswoman Samantha Jordan.

Couch had a blood alcohol level nearly three times above the legal limit for an adult when his pickup truck fatally struck a stranded motorist and three people who had stopped to assist.

Tonya Couch faces up to 10 years in prison for helping her son flee to Mexico.

(Reporting by Marice Richter; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by David Gregorio)


2 thoughts on “Texas judge sends ‘affluenza’ teen’s case to adult system

  1. This punk should be put to death the very hard way, run over by a truck, if not locked in in a hole for the rest of his life and that he never sees the light of day..

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