It was a case that drew much controversies and outcry four years ago as many were scandalized and dismayed with the legal defense of the accused teen as blatantly flexing the family’s influence and financial might, drawing on privilege and using as “justification”, to use the millennial term, “rich boy’s problems.”
Law enforcement officials said that a Texan who was called the “affluenza teen” has been released from jail on Monday after serving almost two years for the controversial killing of four people while driving drunk and later fleeing to Mexico with his mother.
The case has been controversial and made headlines all over the world after the lawyers of the Texan teen Ethan Couch, 20, argued that “his wealthy upbringing impaired his ability to tell right from wrong.”
Couch was only 16 when he figured in a horrific accident where he struck and killed four people in June 2013 with his pickup truck. His blood alcohol level then had three times the legal limit for an adult.
During Couch’s trial in juvenile court that same year, a psychologist testified on his behalf and described Couch as suffering from “affluenza.” The psychologist described affluenza then as an affliction brought on by being spoiled by his parents and that it had supposedly “skewed his moral compass.”
Couch was sentenced to 10 years of probation then for intoxication manslaughter. The decision has sparked huge outrage from critics who condemned the affluenza defense and said that his family’s wealth had kept him out of jail.
In late 2015, a social media video surfaced that showed him in possible violation of his drug-and-drunk-free probation and he, along with his mother, Tonya Couch, fled for Mexico. Mother and son were later apprehended and deported.
Tonya Couch is still in jail for violating the terms of her bond after being charged with the said act of enabling her son to flee to Mexico.
A Tarrant County judge in 2016 transferred Couch’s probation supervision to the adult system, and as a condition of the transfer, ordered that he serve 720 days in jail, 180 days each for his four victims. Legal experts said then that it was already the maximum possible sentence, considering the various legal mechanisms of a case that spanned the juvenile and adult systems.
Jail officials said that Couch has moved from the Tarrant County Jail and was being processed at a probation office. The county sheriff’s office added that Couch was released a few days just before his 21st birthday and will remain under strict probation supervision.
It is not yet clear where Couch plans to go after his release. His lawyers are even requesting for his “privacy” as they claim he needs such to focus on “successfully completing his community supervision and going forward as a law-abiding citizen.”