Ethan Couch, the “affluenza” teen who killed four people in a drunken driving crash in 2013, is free Monday after serving two years in county jail for violating his probation.
Despite calls for comment from a throng of reporters and photographers, Couch, now 20, was silent Monday morning as he walked from the Tarrant County Courthouse to his attorney’s car.
Inside the courthouse Couch was expected to be fitted with a SCRAM device, a GPS-enabled ankle monitor that will track his location and monitor him for alcohol use for the next six years. Terms for Couch’s probation included a curfew that will keep him at home between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and he is not allowed to drink any alcohol.
“He will now serve the remaining six years of his period of community supervision under the terms and conditions imposed by the court. From the beginning, Ethan has admitted his conduct, accepted responsibility for his actions, and felt true remorse for the terrible consequences of those actions,” said his attorneys, Scott Brown and Reagan Wynn, in a statement Monday. “Now, nearly five years after this horrific event, Ethan does not wish to draw attention to himself and requests privacy so he may focus on successfully completing his community supervision and going forward as a law-abiding citizen.”
If Couch violates the terms of his probation, he could face six years in prison.
A juvenile court judge initially drew widespread criticism after sentencing Couch to 10 years of probation. An expert defense witness testified Couch suffered from “affluenza” – being so spoiled by his wealthy parents that he didn’t know right from wrong.
On June 15, 2013, the then-16-year-old was driving drunk and under the influence of marijuana and Valium when he slammed into a group of people who had stopped to help a disabled driver along Burleson-Retta Road in south Tarrant County, Texas.
The crash occurred after Couch had stolen beer from a nearby discount store, police said.
In addition to the four killed, nine were injured, several critically.
The case had disappeared from the national spotlight when Couch was caught on camera in 2015 apparently drinking at a party. The video had been posted on social media.
He and his mother Tonya fled to Mexico. They were arrested in the resort town of Puerto Vallarta and extradited back to Fort Worth.
Tonya Couch was charged with hindering apprehension of a felon and money laundering but released on bond. Just last week, she returned to jail after failing a drug test, prosecutors said.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving said in a statement it’s a “small consolation” that Couch will remain on probation.
“Two years in jail for four people killed is a grave injustice to the victims and their families who have been dealt life sentences because of one person’s devastating decision to drink and drive,” the statement said.
Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn said he doesn’t agree with Couch’s “affluenza” defense.
“I think that’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard in my life,” Waybourn said. “I think what he did was horrific, and I think it was a very short sentence for the crime.”