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'Affluenza teen' Ethan Couch arrested for probation violation

Posted at 2:33 AM, Jan 03, 2020

Ethan Couch, the Texas man known for claiming "affluenza" as part of his defense in a fatal DUI crash, is back in jail after violating his probation, records show.

Couch, 22, had been on probation since being released from jail in April 2018 after serving 720 days for earlier violating his probation in connection with a drunken-driving accident that killed four people and injured several others.

An arrest warrant was issued for Couch Thursday morning, and he was booked into the Tarrant County Jail a few hours later.

He was ordered to be held without bail.

Couch tested positive for THC in a mandatory drug screening that was part of his probation, court documents showed.

At his 2013 trial, Couch was found guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter and initially sentenced to 10 years of probation and time in a rehabilitation center.

The case garnered national attention when, during the sentencing phase, a psychologist testified that the then 16-year-old Couch was a product of "affluenza" -- a term he used to describe Couch's irresponsible lifestyle associated with his affluent upbringing -- and that irresponsible parenting had "strongly enabled" the accident, despite the fact that Couch had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit on the night of the crash.

While on probation in 2015, Couch failed to show up to a check-in with his probation officer, sparking a manhunt. Authorities discovered he'd fled to Mexico with his mother, Tonya Couch.

Couch and his mother were arrested in Puerto Vallarta after U.S. Marshals and other American law enforcement agencies pursued them for nearly two weeks.

After being extradited back to the U.S., Couch was sentenced to 720 days in jail for violating the terms of his probation -- 180 days for each victim.

Meanwhile, Tonya Couch was charged with hindering apprehension of a known felon and money laundering, but released on bond. Her case is still pending.

Late Thursday, attorneys for Ethan Couch released a statement that read, in part: "Based on the limited information available to us, the only basis for the issuance of the warrant is that Ethan was allegedly 'positive' for THC on a Substance Abuse Test Patch. Ethan has been intensely monitored for alcohol and illegal substance use, including constantly wearing the required patch, for more than 20 months and has never been been positive for the use of any substance before. We cannot make any further statement until we have the opportunity to conduct an investigation to determine if, in fact, Ethan ingested THC and, if so, if it was a voluntary act on his part."