teen left in juvenile detention in Texas, for now
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[January 30, 2016]
By Marice Richter
FORT WORTH, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas
judge ruled on Friday that America's so-called "affluenza" teenager
should remain in custody for now at a juvenile detention center in Fort
Worth, where he has been held since he was deported from Mexico on
Ethan Couch, 18, fled to Mexico last month with his mother after
he apparently violated the probation deal reached in juvenile court
that kept him out of prison for killing four people while driving
drunk in 2013.
Judge Timothy Menikos said he was considering a move to an adult
prison for Couch. If that happens, Couch could be eligible for
release on bail, court officials have said, adding the bail option
was not available to him in the juvenile system.
Couch faces a hearing on Feb. 19 to determine if his entire case
will move to the adult system. He also faces 120 days behind bars if
it is found that he violated the probation deal.
Prosecutors want his case moved to the adult system, where he could
face 40 years in prison for any subsequent probation violation.
"I have confidence that he cannot abide by the terms of his
probation," said Tarrant County prosecutor Richard Alpert after the
Couch was sentenced to 10 years of drug-and-alcohol-free probation
for intoxication manslaughter, a punishment condemned by critics as
privilege rewarded with leniency.
"He has never apologized to the victims," Alpert added.
Couch fled to Mexico after a video emerged on social media that
appeared to show him at a party where alcohol was being consumed.
Couch was 16 when he was tried as a juvenile. He gained notoriety
when a psychiatrist testifying on his behalf said he had
"affluenza," arguing that his family's wealth had left him so
spoiled that it impaired his ability to tell right from wrong.
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The affluenza diagnosis, not recognized by the American Psychiatric
Association, was widely ridiculed.
His mother, Tonya Couch, faces up to 10 years in prison for helping
her son flee to Mexico.
Couch's blood alcohol content at the time of the crash, when he
killed a stranded motorist and three other people, was nearly three
times beyond the legal limit for an adult.
A lawyer for Couch said on Friday he will abide by the terms of his
"Of course Ethan is sorry," the lawyer, Scott Brown told reporters.
"Just because he hasn't given a public statement doesn't mean he
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Tom Brown)
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