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'Affluenza Teen' Ethan Couch Just Got Almost Two Years in Jail

When he gets out, he'll be 'affluenza man' Ethan Couch.
April 13, 2016, 4:37pm
Mugshot via Tarrant County Sheriff's Office

Ethan Couch, the Texas teen who became notorious when a psychologist used the term "affluenza" as part of Couch's defense against charges in a 2013 drunk driving accident, was just ordered to jail for a term of nearly two years.

Couch, who was 16 years old at the time of the crash, was originally sentenced in 2014 by a juvenile court to rehab and ten years of probation in the case. The families of the victims—four of whom died, and nine of whom were injured—were outraged at the lenient sentence. Shauna Jennings, whose husband was killed in the accident, told Couch at the time of the sentencing, "You lived a life of privilege and entitlement, and my prayer is that it does not get you out of this."

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Then last year, a video showed Couch smiling as some drunk guy threw himself onto the table during a game of beer pong. Drinking alcohol was a violation of Couch's probation, and shortly after the video surfaced, Couch and his mother, Tonya, fled the country to Mexico. In December, the two were arrested in Puerto Vallarta.

Couch is now 19, and Wednesday's court appearance was his first day in non-juvenile court. Some details of the new sentence have yet to be explained by Texas District Judge Wayne Salvant. After Couch's extradition in February, he was placed in county lockup and held without bail until the judge could rule on his new jail term. So while Couch will be serving four 180 day terms in jail—one for each count of "intoxication manslaughter"—it's not clear whether that includes time served.

On Tuesday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram revealed that despite their apparent wealth, Ethan Couch's parents were unable to pay for the vast majority of their son's 2014 stint in rehab. The cost to the state of Texas for the teen's "residential care and support" was reportedly around $200,000. In January, Tonya Couch was released on $75,000 bail and given an ankle bracelet. She faces charges of hindering the apprehension of a felon.

At Couch's initial trial, Dick Miller, the defense psychologist who used the fateful term "affluenza," also testified at great length about dysfunction in the Couch family. He detailed years of escalating drug and alcohol use under the nose of divorced parents who showed no apparent concern for their son's burgeoning addictions and compulsive behavior.

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