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'Affluenza' teen facing 1st court hearing since deportation

'Affluenza' teen facing 1st court hearing since deportation from Mexico back to US

'Affluenza' teen facing 1st court hearing since deportation

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- The Texas teenager who used an "affluenza" defense in a fatal drunken-driving wreck is expected to learn Friday whether he'll be moved to an adult jail as he awaits a judge's ruling on transferring his case to the adult court system.

Ethan Couch, 18, was booked into a juvenile detention facility after he was deported from Mexico on Thursday. Authorities believe he and his mother fled the country as Texas prosecutors investigated whether he may have violated his probation in the 2013 wreck that killed four people.

A judge could decide Friday to keep Couch at the juvenile facility, move him to an adult jail or release him ahead of a hearing on Feb. 19.

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said Thursday that he supports moving Couch to an adult jail, given the severity of his offenses. Couch was 16 at the time of the fatal accident.

During the sentencing phase of the 2013 trial, a defense witness argued Couch had been coddled into a sense of irresponsibility by his wealthy parents. The expert deemed the condition "affluenza," which isn't recognized as a medical diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association.

The teen was later sentenced to 10 years' probation.

In December, Couch and his mother disappeared after an online video appeared to show Couch at a party where people were drinking. They were apprehended in Mexico on Dec. 28 after a call for pizza delivery tipped off authorities.

Couch initially fought deportation but dropped the fight this week. His mother, Tonya Couch, was deported last month and is charged in Texas with hindering the apprehension of a felon. She was released on bond this month after being fitted with an electronic ankle GPS monitor.

If Ethan Couch's case is moved to adult court in Texas, the judge could order Couch to spend up to 120 days in jail for violating his probation and then finish the remainder of his 10-year probation sentence, according to Tarrant County District Attorney spokeswoman Samantha Jordan. If he were to violate his probation again, he could get up to 10 years in prison for each of the four people killed in the drunken-driving wreck.

If his case remains in juvenile court, he could be held in a juvenile detention center for violating his probation until he turns 19 in April, at which point he would become eligible for parole.


Updated : 2021-04-22 02:42 GMT+08:00