‘Affluenza’ Teen Probation Hearing On Hold

Ethan Couch
The Associated Press

The probation hearing for “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch, 18, began in North Texas on Tuesday, January 19 only to be delayed because neither of Couch’s parents were formally notified of the hearing.

Initially, Couch’s defense team objected to the hearing happening without their client present but prosecutors countered that Couch was voluntarily absent. Couch has been in a Mexican holding facility, fighting his extradition back to Tarrant County. However, WFAA 8 (ABC) reported that Couch’s attorney Scott Brown said Tuesday that documents filed in Mexico to fight his extradiction were withdrawn, which clears Couch’s return to Texas. Prosecutors hope to move Couch’s case to the adult court system before his 19th birthday in April.

Still, because no record existed that Couch’s parents were formally notified of the hearing previously, the judge called a recess, putting the transfer hearing on hold until Couch’s parents can be properly informed. “The judge looked at the file. He followed the letter of the law. This judge knows the juvenile law backwards and fowards and he found the state could not go forward with the transfer motion today,” Brown told reporters. KDFW 4 (Fox) reported that the meeting was rescheduled for Feb. 19.

Breitbart Texas reported that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) planned to deliver the results of their online petition to support the prosecution’s efforts to move the case to adult court. According to their website, they collected more than 40,000 signatures by early Tuesday morning. MADD exceeded the 30,000 signature they originally sought.

The prosecution intended to argue its case to move Couch’s case from the juvenile system and into adult court. Previously, Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson reiterated her sentiments that she wanted to see Couch’s case moved. She said that keeping Couch in a juvenile facility for fleeing the country until his 19th birthday in April “is not enough” punishment.

Couch was 16-years-old when he killed four people and wounded others in a June 2013 drunk-driving wreck near Fort Worth. His defense attorneys claimed he was the victim of “affluenza,” an inability to distinguish right from wrong based on his affluent upbringing. Instead of jail time, a lenient judge gave Couch a 10 year probation sentence.

On Monday, MADD’s Jason Derscheid told KDFW 4 (Fox) that Couch has not been held accountable. “Having him transfer over to the adult (court) system will actually give them an opportunity to hold him more accountable, which is what we want. You know, he’s not a child.”

In December, investigators began to probe into a social media video of a party allegedly serving alcohol surfaced and showed someone who looked like Couch. Drinking alcohol was among his probation violations. Later, the teen failed to connect with his probation officer and authorities believed his mother helped him flee to Mexico, where both were detained. Authorities since extradited his mother Tonya Couch to Tarrant County, who they charged with hindering the apprehension of a felon, her son. Tonya Couch’s bond was set at $1 million, although last week, it was lowered by a judge to $75,000. She bonded out of the Tarrant County Jail and must wear an electronic ankle monitor.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.