‘Affluenza’ Teen Back in U.S.A. to Face Texas Justice

AP Photo
The Associated Press

Ethan Couch, the Texas 18-year-old known for his “affluenza” defense in the fatal 2013 drunk driving accident that killed four people and injured others, arrived at the Dallas-Ft. Worth International airport just before 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, on an AeroMexico flight, NBC DFW reported. He could be seen walking through the airport escorted by law enforcement. Until this week, Couch fought his extradition back to the United States through a high-profile attorney in Mexico.

According to the Dallas CBS-TV affiliate KTVT, authorities are taking Couch to a juvenile detention facility north of Fort Worth.

Previously, local officials alleged that Couch’s mother Tonya helped him flee the U.S. after a party video surfaced online purportedly serving alcohol and capturing someone who looked like Ethan Couch. Alcohol consumption was among his probation violations.

At time of his trial, a lenient juvenile court judge tried then 16-year-old Couch with a defense blaming the tragic accident on “affluenza,” a so-called condition where the youth’s inability to distinguish right from wrong stemmed from over-indulgent parents and an affluent upbringing. Instead of jail time, he received 10 years of probation, rehab and counseling.

In December, Couch and his mother were detained in Puerto Vallarta following an international manhunt for the teenager after he missed a routine check-in with his probation officer.

Earlier in January, authorities deported Tonya Couch back to Texas to face the third-degree felony charge of hindering an apprehension. Once back in Fort Worth, her $1 million bail was reduced to $75,000. She since bonded out of jail, is housebound and electronically monitored. 

Tarrant County officials want to move the teen’s probation to the adult court system on his 19th birthday in April to hold him better accountable. If the case transfers over to the adult court system, Couch could face up to 120 days in prison. In the adult system, he would serve out the remaining eight years on his 10 year probation sentence, still bound by the terms of the original juvenile court sentence; however, he could receive up to 40 years in prison if he violated probation again, which Breitbart Texas reported.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) launched a petition to support that Couch’s case be moved to the adult court.

This story continues to develop. More details as they emerge.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.