DALLAS, April 13 (UPI) — A Texas judge on Wednesday said Ethan Couch, the so-called “affluenza teen,” will stay in jail for two years for a drunk-driving crash that killed four people in 2013.
The Tarrant County judge said Couch will serve 180 days behind bars for each of the four people he killed in the auto crash three years ago — just shy of two years.
However, State District Judge Wayne Salvant said he will make a final determination in two weeks, at which time he may alter the sentence in either direction.
He made one thing clear to Couch Wednesday, though.
“You’re not getting out of jail today,” he said.
Defense attorneys at Wednesday’s hearing asked Salvant for a lesser sentence.
“Nothing I do is in stone, so I might reconsider,” the judge replied.
On Monday, the day Couch turned 19, the case transitioned into the adult court system.
Couch was behind the wheel when his truck collided with an SUV on Burleson-Retta Road in northern Texas on June 15, 2013. Authorities said Couch was three times over the state’s legal alcohol limit — and also had marijuana and Valium in his system — and was traveling around 70 mph on the road, 30 mph over the speed limit.
Four people — three women and a man — who were trying to revive a stalled vehicle on the road were struck and killed by Couch’s truck, investigators said. Eleven others in in the crash, including the seven in Couch’s truck and two children in a third vehicle, survived.
During the trial, a defense psychologist controversially testified that Couch’s actions were products of “affluenza” — a mental condition whereby wealthy people are more cavalier with their behavior because they believe their elevated socioeconomic status permits it.
As a minor, Couch was sentenced to 10 years probation, which prohibited consumption of alcohol and being present where alcohol was served.
After a video later surfaced that indicated Couch violated those terms, he and his mother fled to Mexico. They were found living in Puerta Vallarta in December and returned to the United States weeks later.
Tonya Couch, the teen’s mother, has been charged with hindering the apprehension of a felon and faces prosecution that could send her to prison for between two and 10 years.