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The Drunk-Driving "Affluenza" Teen Was Just Released From Jail

Ethan Couch was released after spending two years in jail for violating his probation for a drunk-driving crash that killed four people in 2013.

Posted on April 2, 2018, at 4:37 p.m. ET

Ethan Couch — who became infamous for using "affluenza" as a defense in a drunk-driving crash that killed four people in 2013 — was released from a Texas jail Monday after serving two years for violating his parole.

Nick Oxford / Reuters

Couch's case garnered national outrage in 2013 after he initially avoided jail time for the fatal drunk-driving crash after his defense team argued that the then–16-year-old suffered from "affluenza" — or the affliction of being too spoiled by affluent parents, which left him without a sense of responsibility.

Associated Press

Ethan Couch in 2013.

Couch slammed his pickup truck into a 24-year-old stranded motorist, Breanna Mitchell, as well as three others who had stopped to help her. They included Hollie Boyles, 52, her daughter Shelby, 21, and 41-year-old youth pastor Brian Jennings. Couch's family agreed to pay an undisclosed amount of money to the families of Mitchell and Boyles.

Couch's family also agreed to pay more than $2 million to the family of 16-year-old Sergio E. Molina, who was paralyzed after being thrown out of Couch's truck during the crash.

Couch — whose blood alcohol level at the time of the crash in 2013 was three times the legal limit — pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter, but was not sentenced to jail. He instead got 10 years of probation and was ordered to spend time in a rehabilitation center.


But in December 2015, Couch was reported missing after a video posted on social media showed a man who appeared to be him playing beer pong with his friends — a violation of his probation.

US Marshals Service via AP

Mexican authorities arrested Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, after the two made a phone call ordering pizza in the resort city of Puerto Vallarta in 2015. The two had "carefully planned and timed" their escape to Mexico as evidenced by a "going away party" for Couch, authorities said.

Mexico's Jalisco State Prosecutor's Office via AP

Couch in custody in Mexico in 2015.

After Couch was extradited to the US, a Texas court sentenced him to two years behind bars for violating his parole.

Tarrant County Sheriff's Department / Handout via Reuters

Couch in his 2016 booking photo.

According to the terms of his current probation, Couch, 20, will have to wear an ankle monitor and an alcohol detecting patch, CNN reported. He will also have a 9 p.m. curfew and video interlock ignition device installed in his vehicle.

Nick Oxford / Reuters

Couch will also serve the remaining six years of his community supervision under the terms and conditions imposed by the court, his attorneys, Scott Brown and Reagan Wynn, said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News.

"From the beginning, Ethan has admitted his conduct, accepted responsibility for his actions, and felt true remorse for the terrible consequences of those actions," the attorneys said. "Now, nearly five years after this horrific event, Ethan does not wish to draw attention to himself and requests privacy so he may focus on successfully completing his community supervision and going forward as a law-abiding citizen."

His mom, Tonya Couch, was back in the same jail as her son last week for violating her own parole by failing a court-ordered drug test, ABC News reported.

Rodger Mallison / AP

Tonya Couch in 2016.

She was serving parole after being charged with hindering the apprehension of a felon.

Mark J. Terrill / AP

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.