Judge rules 'affluenza' teen can stay in juvenile facility

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 hearing to determine whether his case will be transferred to adult court, 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 U.S. last month as Texas prosecutors investigated whether he violated his probation in the 2013 wreck that killed four people.

Prosecutors and the local sheriff wanted Couch moved to an adult jail. But during a brief hearing, Judge Timothy Menikos sided with Couch's attorneys and said the teen would stay at the juvenile centre until a Feb. 19 hearing.

Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson said her office would do everything it could to hold Couch accountable, but noted she was limited because Couch was sentenced only to 10 years' probation in 2013. The sentence came after a defence expert testified that Couch had been coddled into a sense of irresponsibility by his wealthy parents, calling the condition "affluenza."

Wilson urged the public not to focus on Couch or "feed his ego with notoriety."

"Behind every incident are the victims, and this should be their story," she said in a statement Friday.

The then-16-year-old Couch had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit for adult drivers when he swerved off a road near Fort Worth and hit a disabled car, killing its driver and three people helping her.

Among the most severely injured survivors was Sergio Molina, who was paralyzed and can communicate only by blinking his eyes. He was in the bed of Couch's truck, which was carrying eight people.

His brother, Alex Lemus, was at the Friday hearing and said Molina will attend Couch's hearing in February.

"It's very hard to deal with all the changes to Sergio, being in the state that he's in," Lemus said. "Yet it's frustrating because we have to deal with the understanding (that) if my brother was the one driving the vehicle with all these victims, my mother really believes he would have gotten the death penalty in Texas."

Tim McLaughlin, whose 15-year-old son was in the other vehicle but survived, said he also hopes Couch goes to jail because he needs "a wake-up call." Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter in the wreck, was at the hearing but declined an interview request.

Couch's attorney, Scott Brown, said that he doesn't plan to fight transferring the case to adult court, though he wouldn't detail what he planned to argue at the February hearing.

Couch and his mother disappeared in December, after an online video appeared to show Couch at a party where people were drinking. Terms of Couch's probation barred him from drinking or leaving Tarrant County.

Mother and son 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 charged with hindering the apprehension of a felon. She was released on bond after being fitted with an electronic ankle GPS monitor.

If Ethan Couch's case is moved to adult court, the judge could order Couch to spend up to 120 days in jail as part of an adult sentence, and then finish the remainder of his 10-year probation, according to district attorney spokeswoman Samantha Jordan. If he violates his probation during that time, 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, prosecutors could ask for a separate hearing to determine whether Couch violated his probation. If a judge rules that he didn't violate his terms, he would go free directly after the hearing and remain on probation until his sentence expires on his 19th birthday in April, according to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. If Couch is found to have violated probation, the judge could either sentence him to a state facility operated by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department or leave him on juvenile probation until he turns 19.

If Couch is sentenced to the state facility, a judge would hold another hearing before his birthday to determine whether to transfer him to adult prison for up to 10 years or to adult parole.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Iran tests ballistic missile and 'we won't ask anyone's permission'

    World News CBC News
    Iran said on Saturday it had successfully tested a new ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 kilometres and would keep developing its arsenal despite U.S. pressure to stop. The United States has imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, saying its missile tests violate a UN resolution, which calls on Tehran not to undertake activities related to missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Source
  • Damage in Puerto Rico strains relief efforts by agencies

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Federal agencies grappled Saturday with the vast scale of the disaster in Puerto Rico left by Hurricane Maria, the third major storm to strike the U.S. in less than a month. Three days after the massive hurricane crossed the U.S. Source
  • Trump, Kim insults are the latest in a long - often more cutting - line of political put-downs

    World News Toronto Sun
    North Korea’s florid insults and President Donald Trump’s schoolyard ripostes are but the latest in a long tradition of political and diplomatic put-downs. And they are far from the most cutting. Pyongyang has arguably done better (or worse, depending on point of view). Source
  • Mounties make deal to transfer Louis Riel items to future Metis facility

    Canada News CTV News
    WINNIPEG -- Three items, including a crucifix, that belonged to North-West Rebellion leader Louis Riel, which have been held by the RCMP for decades, will soon return to Metis possession. RCMP Deputy Commissioner Kevin Brosseau and Manitoba Metis Federation president David Chartrand signed a memorandum of understanding on Saturday that will see the items transferred to a Metis heritage centre in Winnipeg, once it is built. Source
  • Montrealers rally in solidarity with Catalan independence movement

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- More than 150 people gathered in front of Montreal's Spanish consulate Saturday to express their solidarity with the Catalan independence movement. Organizers also denounced what they describe as the Canadian government's timid response to the intensifying Spanish crackdown ahead of a planned Oct. Source
  • Some forcibly arrested in St. Louis weren't even protesting

    World News CTV News
    ST. LOUIS -- An undercover St. Louis police officer and an Air Force lieutenant who lives in the neighbourhood were among several people who say they were forcibly arrested last weekend in the city even though they were not participating in protests over the acquittal of a white former officer in the killing of a black suspect. Source
  • Texas lothario's sex game [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    Jessie Bardwell’s dad called her Jessie Boo. Despite her leggy good looks, long-flowing blond hair and bubbly personality, the 27-year-old was at heart a daddy’s girl. “Jessie had a smile that could light up a room,” her mom Carla told the Dallas Morning News. Source
  • Conservative theologians accuse pope of spreading heresy

    World News CTV News
    VATICAN CITY -- Several dozen tradition-minded Roman Catholic theologians, priests and academics have formally accused Pope Francis of spreading heresy with his 2016 opening to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. In a 25-page letter delivered to Francis last month and provided Saturday to The Associated Press, the 62 signatories issued a "filial correction" to the pope -- a measure they said hadn't been employed since the 14th century. Source
  • Q&A: How to avoid car dealerships pushing maintenance you don't need

    Canada News CBC News
    An undercover Marketplace investigation exposed evidence some dealerships sell unnecessary service and push regular maintenance much sooner than the manufacturer recommends. Following the report, Marketplace host David Common and expert mechanic Mark Whinton participated in a Facebook Live, answering questions from viewers about their vehicles and how to determine what needs doing when at the dealership. Source
  • Alberta's Notley says any fed tax changes need to balance fairness with growth

    Canada News CTV News
    EDMONTON -- Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is not weighing in directly on the federal government's controversial tax change proposals. But she says she hopes the feds strike a balance by ensuring tax fairness without stifling economic growth. Source