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Thursday, July 18, 2024 | Back issues
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No Bail in Texas for Affluenza Killer

FORT WORTH, Texas (CN) - A judge ordered "affluenza" killer Ethan Couch to remain in juvenile detention until a Feb. 19 hearing to determine if his case should be transferred to adult court.

Couch, 18, looked down and did not speak during the seven-minute transfer hearing Friday. Texas District Judge Timothy Menikos ordered Couch detained until the Feb. 19 hearing. Neither of Couch's parents were present.

Couch entered the national consciousness in 2013 when he was sentenced to probation and therapy after killing four people and injuring several others while driving drunk on stolen beer.

A defense psychologist testified at trial that Couch, then 16, was the product of "affluenza," that his family believed wealth bought privilege and there was no rational link between behavior and consequences.

Couch was extradited to Texas from Mexico on Thursday after he dropped his legal fight to stay there.

Couch and his mother, Tonya, 48, were arrested in Puerto Vallarta in December after being on the run for two weeks. They fled after a six-second video posted on Twitter appeared to show Couch at a beer pong game. He is prohibited from drinking alcohol during his 10 years of probation.

Couch's mother was deported within days after her arrest and is free on $75,000 bail. She faces a third-degree felony count of hindering apprehension and up to 10 years in state prison if convicted.

Couch faces up to 120 days in juvenile detention if it is determined he violated probation. He would face harsher punishment only in adult court if he violates terms of probation again.

Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson assured the public she will "do everything we can under the law to hold him accountable for what he's done" while acknowledging the limits of Couch's sentence of probation.

"We ask when you think about this case going forward, don't remember Ethan Couch and the chances he's squandered," Wilson said in a statement Friday. "Don't feed his ego with notoriety. Remember Hollie and Shelby Boyles, Brian Jennings and Breanna Mitchell, and the lives they'll never have.

"Remember Sergio Molina, Lucas McConnell, Isaiah McLaughlin and Soloman Mohmand, who continue to deal every day with their injuries from the crash. Remember all of their families. Behind every incident are the victims, and this should be their story."

Couch's attorney, Scott Brown of Fort Worth, expressed hope after the hearing that his client will complete the rest of his probation.

"During all that counseling he was in that Judge [Jean] Boyd ordered, he did well in the program that included psychological programs," Brown said. "He is remorseful. Just because he has not come out and given a public statement to you does not mean he is not remorseful."

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