A Texas county judge sentenced the so-called “affluenza” teen on Wednesday to serve four consecutive 180-day terms in jail for violating a juvenile probation deal that kept him out of prison after he killed four people while driving drunk in 2013.
Ethan Couch, 19, has been in a Tarrant County jail since January. In his first appearance in adult court, he was given the sentence of almost two years in jail by Judge Wayne Salvant.
“You are not getting out of jail today,” Salvant told Couch, who was wearing a red jumpsuit from the Tarrant County Jail.
At his trial in juvenile court in 2013 when he was 16, a psychologist testifying on his behalf said Couch was so spoiled by his wealthy parents that he could not tell right from wrong. The psychologist described the affliction as “affluenza,” a term that quickly became a media buzzword.
He was sentenced to 10 years of probation, a penalty that sparked outrage from critics who ridiculed the affluenza defense and said his family’s wealth helped the teen stay out of jail.
Couch was taken into custody in Texas after he fled to Mexico in December with his mother, apparently to avoid arrest for violating the drink- and drug-free terms of the probation deal after video on social media appeared to show him at a party where alcohol was being consumed.
Taxpayers paid more than $150,000 of the $200,000 bill for the year-long rehabilitation imposed as part of the sentence because his parents could not afford to pay for all of the treatment, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said, citing court documents.
Judge Salvant is also presiding over the case of his mother, Tonya Couch.
She is charged with helping her son flee to Mexico. She was released on bail but is under home confinement awaiting trial.
If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Alan Crosby)