​Ethan Couch Adult Court: Affluenza Defense in Couch Drunken-Driving Wreck

Ethan Couch Adult Court
Author: John LesterBy:
Staff Reporter
Apr. 13, 2016

Ethan Couch’s adult court date was today, after turning 19 on Monday. The Texas teenager was caught in Mexico after using an “affluenza” defense in a deadly drunken-driving wreck. His birthday automatically triggers stricter probation conditions.

Ethan Couch is currently behind bars for violating his probation by escaping to Mexico, and he’s set to face a judge in adult court Wednesday, according to KXAN. Authorities say they believe Couch and his mother fled to Mexico as Texas prosecutors investigated whether he may have violated his probation in the drunken-driving case.

The crash killed four people and left nine others hurt. Couch was 16 at the time of the wreck in 2013. Officials in Mexico caught Couch and his mother, Tonya, in December, and eventually deported both to the U.S.

Ethan Couch’s mother, 48, was released on bond with a GPS monitor. She’s charged with hindering the apprehension of a felon.

Ethan Couch will appear in adult court before a Fort Worth judge who could order more jail time as part of the conditions of his adult probation. Prosecutors and court officials declined Tuesday to confirm the nature of the hearing.

Couch’s blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit for adult drivers when he rammed a pickup truck into a crowd of people trying to help a stranded driver on the side of a road near Fort Worth. The probation sentence handed down by a juvenile court judge outraged prosecutors, who had called for him to serve detention time.

Affluenza is not recognized as a medical diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association, and its invocation during Couch’s trial provoked a backlash from some medical experts and families of the dead. His legal team had claimed he was too young and affluent to understand right from wrong.

Before Couch violated his probation and fled to Mexico, he received about $200,000 in “residential care and support” for more than a year, with the state picking up most of the tab, according to costs outlined in court documents made available this week.

The Ethan Couch’s adult court case sparked outrage when Judge Jean Boyd, a now retired juvenile court judge, sentenced Ethan Couch to 10 years probation. Boyd also ordered Couch to rehabilitation at the North Texas State Hospital in Vernon, where documents reveal the daily cost for Couch was $673, or about $20,000 a month.

Attorneys have said they expect Criminal District Judge Wayne Salvant to keep Couch in jail for an additional four months as a condition of his probation. However, experts say the judge has discretion moving forward. Salvant placed a gag order on the case.

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