Judge says 'affluenza' teen won't be moved to adult jail

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The Texas teenager who used an "affluenza" defence in a fatal drunken-driving wreck won't be moved to an adult jail as he awaits a court ruling on whether his case is transferred to the adult system, where he could face time behind bars, a judge ruled Friday.

See Full Article

Ethan Couch, 18, was booked into a juvenile detention facility in Fort Worth 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.

Prosecutors and the local sheriff wanted Couch moved to an adult jail ahead of next month's hearing. But during a brief hearing Friday in Forth Worth, Judge Timothy Menikos sided with Couch's attorneys and said Couch could stay at the juvenile centre.

Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson said her office would do everything it could to hold Couch accountable, but she noted she was limited by the 10-year probation sentence Couch was given during his trial in juvenile court in 2013.

Wilson urged the public not to feed Couch's "ego with notoriety," and to instead focus on the effects his drunken driving had on the victims and their families. The fatal accident also severely injured two people.

"Behind every incident are the victims, and this should be their story," Wilson said.

During the sentencing phase of the 2013 trial, a defence 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 and drew widespread derision.

The teen was later sentenced to 10 years' probation, which including barring him from drinking or leaving Tarrant County, Texas. Prosecutors and law enforcement officers blasted the sentence as too weak.

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said Thursday that he wanted Couch moved to an adult jail, given his age and the severity of his offences. Couch was 16 at the time of the fatal accident, so the case is being handled for now in juvenile court.

"He's certainly capable of understanding now what's going on, and I'd feel better if he was there," Anderson said.

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 the Mexican resort city of Puerto Vallarta on Dec. 28, after a call for pizza delivery tipped off authorities to their whereabouts.

Couch initially fought deportation, but he 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 centre for violating his probation until he turns 19 in April, at which point he would become eligible for parole.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Fugitive lawyer says he's fled the U.S. using fake passport

    World News CTV News
    LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A fugitive Kentucky lawyer at the centre of a nearly $600 million Social Security fraud case has fled the country using a fake passport and has gotten help from someone overseas with a job to help support himself. Source
  • Pride flag found burned in Taber, Alta.

    Canada News CBC News
    For the second time in as many weeks, a Pride flag flying in Taber, Alta., has been destroyed by vandals. Sometime on Saturday night or early Sunday morning, someone burned the flag being flown in Confederation Park, near the town hall. Source
  • 'Your actual place in society': Minority Montrealers stung by racial divide at Fête nationale parade

    Canada News CBC News
    When Félix Brouillet saw the first float in Saturday's Fête nationale parade in Montreal, he thought he was looking at a scene out of a 1960s movie about ancient Rome. A white woman in a flowing blue dress stood on the float, which was pushed down St. Source
  • Pride group in Taber, Alta. says their flag was burned

    Canada News CTV News
    TABER, Alta. -- Organizers of a southern Alberta town's first Pride event say they'll raise a third rainbow flag after the first was stolen and the one they replaced it with was burned. Jillian Demontigny of the Taber Equality Alliance says her group was notified Sunday that a police officer noticed damage to the flag and scorch marks up the flagpole while driving past Confederation Park. Source
  • Turkish police fire tear gas on banned LGBT Pride March [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    ISTANBUL — As Pride Parade activities across North America have been met by protesters arguing about inclusiveness, other places around the world struggle for the right to even hold marches. Turkish police stopped activists for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex rights from gathering in large numbers for an LGBT pride event in Istanbul on Sunday, but smaller groups made impromptu press statements defying a ban imposed by the governor. Source
  • 'I couldn't let that little girl die'; Teen dangling from Six Flags' 'Sky Ride' falls into arms of crowd [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    QUEENSBURY, N.Y. — A teenager fell about 25 feet (about 8 metres) from a stopped gondola ride at an upstate New York amusement park Saturday night, tumbling into a crowd of park guests and employees gathered below to catch her before she hit the ground. Source
  • 'We saw bodies everywhere'; Oil tanker explodes in Pakistan, killing at least 153 people [Photos] [Video

    World News Toronto Sun
    BAHAWALPUR, Pakistan — An overturned oil tanker burst into flames in Pakistan on Sunday, killing 153 people who had rushed to the scene of the highway accident to gather leaking fuel, a hospital official said as the death toll continued to rise. Source
  • Thank you note from Trump is 'memorabilia' for N.L. political watcher

    Canada News CTV News
    BAULINE, N.L. -- In a world of political cynicism and voter apathy, Doug Kavanagh is the ultimate engaged citizen. And now his growing collection of correspondence with leaders and news editors across Canada and the world has another addition: a thank-you note from U.S. Source
  • Black Lives Matter NYC 'inspired' by Toronto chapter's calls for removal of uniformed police

    World News CBC News
    Inspired by Black Lives Matter Toronto's demonstration at the Toronto Pride Parade last year, members of the activist group in New York City are now calling on the removal of uniformed police officers from their city's parade. Source
  • Police operation unfolds in Moncton, N.B. following report of gunshots

    Canada News CTV News
    MONCTON, N.B. -- Police in New Brunswick have arrested two people in connection with a shooting incident in downtown Moncton on Sunday. Sgt. Andre Pepin of the Codiac RCMP said a 25-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman are in custody following an hours-long police operation. Source