'Affluenza' teen jailed in Texas for probation violation

A photo from Feb 5, 2016, provided by the Tarrant County, Texas, Sheriff's Office, shows Ethan Couch, a Texas man who used "affluenza" as a defence at his trial for killing four people while driving drunk. PHOTO: AP

FORT WORTH (AP) - A Texas man who used "affluenza" as a defence at his trial for killing four people while driving drunk was arrested on Thursday (Jan 2) after the authorities said he violated the terms of his probation.

Ethan Couch, 22, was booked into a jail in Fort Worth after he tested positive for the psychoactive compound in marijuana, court records show.

Couch's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Jail records did not indicate whether his bond had been set on Thursday afternoon.

Couch became known as the "affluenza teen" during his manslaughter trial for the 2013 crash. Sixteen years old at the time of the crash, he was found to have a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit for adult drivers after the crash. But a psychologist told a juvenile court that he was affected by "affluenza", or irresponsibility caused by family wealth.

A judge originally sentenced Couch to 10 years of probation. But he was later jailed after attending a party where alcohol was served and then fleeing to Mexico with his mother to avoid punishment. He was released in 2018 after serving a nearly two-year sentence.

In 2013, Couch lost control of his family's pickup truck after he and his friends played beer pong and drank beer stolen from a Walmart. He veered into a crowd of people helping the driver of a disabled vehicle on the side of the road. The authorities later estimated that he was going 112kmh in a 64kmh zone.

The crash fatally injured the stranded motorist, a youth minister who stopped to help her and a mother and daughter who came out of their nearby home. Tonya Couch, Ethan's mother, is awaiting trial on charges of hindering apprehension of a felon and money laundering arising from when they fled to Mexico in 2015. She has been in and out of jail since then.

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