AUSTIN (CN) – The Texas Supreme Court refused to hear “affluenza” killer Ethan Couch’s appeal, leaving him to serve the remainder of his two-year sentence for fleeing to Mexico while on juvenile probation.
The high court denied Couch’s petition of mandamus on Thursday. Couch, 20, has fought his incarceration for the past year. In April of last year, Tarrant County Judge Wayne Salvant sentenced him to 180 days for each of the four people he killed while driving drunk as a juvenile.
Couch became a household name in 2013 when former Tarrant County Judge Jean Boyd sentenced him to just 10 years probation and therapy after he drunkenly drove into a crowd of people assisting with a stranded vehicle on the side of the road in south Fort Worth.
He killed mother and daughter Hollie and Shelby Boyles, youth pastor Brian Jennings and Breanna Mitchell, while seriously injuring several others.
A defense psychologist testified at trial that Couch was a product of “affluenza” – that his family felt their wealth bought privilege and that there was no rational link between behavior and consequences. Couch could have been sentenced to up to 20 years in state prison for the offense.
Couch made headlines again in 2015 when a video appeared on social media showing someone who closely resembled him at a beer pong game, which would have been a parole violation since he was banned from drinking alcohol while on juvenile probation. He and his mother, Tonya Couch, were arrested in Puerto Vallarta in December 2015. She is awaiting trial on charges of money laundering and hindering the apprehension of a fugitive.
Since his jailing, Couch’s lawyers have argued that Salvant did not have jurisdiction over the case because it was transferred to him from juvenile court. According to the attorneys, this converts the case from a criminal to a civil matter.
“The Texas legislature specifically failed to provide for or allow transfer to a ‘criminal district court’ having only civil jurisdiction in the determinate sentencing scenario at issue in this case,” a plea to the jurisdiction filed in last April states.
A visiting judge denied the defense’s attempt to remove Salvant in September 2016. A subsequent appeal to the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth was denied in February.