Texas authorities search for teen who used 'affluenza' defence

DALLAS - Authorities are investigating whether a teenager who killed four people in a 2013 drunken-driving wreck - and claimed as part of his defence that he was coddled too much by wealthy parents - has fled with his mother to avoid a potential violation of his probation.

See Full Article

Prosecutors said Wednesday they're trying to determine whether Ethan Couch, 18, was one of the people drinking at a party in a video posted on social media earlier this month.

Lawyers for Couch issued a statement saying his probation officer hasn't been able to reach him for several days, prompting authorities to issue the juvenile equivalent of an arrest warrant for the teen. They're also seeking the boy's mother, Tonya Couch, with whom he had been living.

Sam Jordan, spokeswoman for the Tarrant County district attorney's office, said investigators with Tarrant County Juvenile Services and with the district attorney's office are searching for the two. DA investigators are working to verify whether it's Couch who's seen in the video, she said.

When Couch was prosecuted in juvenile court, his lawyers invoked the affluenza defence that claimed his irresponsible lifestyle was due to wealthy parents who coddled him. He was later sentenced by a judge to probation and time in a rehabilitation centre - a punishment that drew protests from prosecutors and others.

Although Couch is now considered an adult, his case remains in juvenile court because his offence occurred when he was a minor. The DA's office has filed a motion to move it to adult state District Court when Couch turns 19 in April. A hearing has not been scheduled to consider the motion.

"We're limited on what can be released because for now it remains a juvenile matter," Jordan said.

The case against the teen has generated outrage at various turns, with even the Texas Legislature at one point weighing in.

A pickup driven by Couch in June 2013 was travelling at more than 65 mph (105 kph) along a dark, two-lane road south of Fort Worth when it barrelled into a disabled vehicle and a group of people who had stopped to help the stranded motorist.

Couch was 16 at the time. His blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit for an adult and there were traces of Valium in his system.

Among the dead were a youth pastor and a woman and her daughter. Twelve others were hurt, including two critically injured teens who were among seven people riding in Couch's pickup.

One of the attorneys, Reagan Wynn, did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

In the months after the wreck, Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst asked the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice to review how probation sentences are issued in adult and juvenile cases of intoxication manslaughter.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Missing journalist died in accident on submarine, vessel's owner says

    World News CTV News
    HELSINKI -- Danish police say that the owner of a home-built submarine has told investigators that a missing female Swedish journalist died onboard in an accident, and he buried her at sea in an unspecified location. Source
  • Search for Barcelona van driver widens across Europe

    World News CBC News
    Spanish police on Monday extended the search for the man who killed 13 people in Barcelona by ramming a van into crowds to all of Europe as details emerged of how he fled on foot through the streets of the old town before disappearing. Source
  • Barcelona attack driver still at large, identity confirmed

    World News CTV News
    BARCELONA, Spain -- Spanish authorities confirmed on Monday the identity of the driver of the deadly van attack in Barcelona and said that he is the last member of the 12-man Islamic extremist cell still at large. Source
  • 1 dead, 1 injured as van rams bus stops in Marseille, France

    World News CTV News
    PARIS -- A van rammed into two bus stops in the French port city of Marseille on Monday, killing one person and injuring another, a police official said. The driver of the Renault Master van was arrested in a third location, the scenic Old Port area of France's second-largest city, David-Olivier Reverdy of the Alliance police union said. Source
  • Trump to outline Afghan strategy in national TV address

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump will use a nationally televised address to outline for a war-weary nation the strategy he believes will best position the U.S. to eventually declare victory in Afghanistan after 16 years of combat and lives lost. Source
  • Ten sailors missing after U.S. destroyer collision

    World News CTV News
    SINGAPORE -- Vessels from several nations are searching Southeast Asian waters for 10 missing U.S. sailors after an early morning collision Monday between the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker ripped a gaping hole in the destroyer's hull. Source
  • Big Ben bell to go silent in London for repairs until 2021

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- The British Parliament's Big Ben bell is due to sound the hour for the last time on Monday before it is silenced for almost four years of repair work that will deprive London of one of its most iconic sounds. Source
  • 1 killed in Marseille after van crashes into bus shelters

    World News CBC News
    At least one person was killed and another injured in Marseille on Monday when a van crashed into two bus shelters in different parts of the French city, police said. Police advised the public to avoid the Old Port area where the driver, a 35-year-old man, was arrested. Source
  • 100 years on, 'forgotten' WWI Canadian victory at Hill 70 memorialized

    Canada News CBC News
    A group huddles around a collection of large black-and-white portraits strewn across a table at the armoury in Kamloops, B.C. Peering through magnifying glasses, they search for a specific face among the rows of troops dressed in identical uniforms. Source
  • Amid Trans Mountain uncertainty, pro-pipeline Indigenous peoples make a pitch for development

    Canada News CBC News
    Some Indigenous leaders in B.C. scored a major victory recently after they successfully lobbied Premier John Horgan to join a legal fight to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The $7.4 billion project, which got the green light from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last fall, now faces an uncertain future in the face of vehement opposition from some anti-pipeline protesters, which count many First Nations peoples among their ranks. Source