Where is Ethan Couch now? A look at his story in 'Affluenza Teen: The Jailhouse Sessions' after killing four
A psychologist claimed that Couch was a victim of 'affluenza', a product of wealthy parents who never set limits and that irresponsible parenting caused the crash despite his high blood-alcohol level
In June 2013, 16-year-old Ethan Couch lost control of his pickup while intoxicated and driving with a restricted license, and plowed into a group of people assisting another driver with a disabled SUV. The victims included Hollie Boyles and her daughter, Shelby, who had left their home to help Breanna Mitchell, whose SUV had broken down. Brian Jennings, a youth pastor, who was driving past also stopped to help. All four individuals were killed.
Two people riding in the bed of the pickup were tossed during the accident and severely injured, with one of them suffering a brain injury and has been paralyzed since. According to reports, Couch's blood alcohol content registered at 0.24 three hours after the crash, three times the legal limit.
During Couch's defense, a psychologist testified that Couch was a victim of "affluenza", a product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for him, and that irresponsible parenting had "strongly enabled" the accident, in spite of Couch's high blood-alcohol level. The teen didn’t think he had done anything serious, Dr G Dick Miller said, and his mother lied to his father about it, according to Fox News.
Couch was sentenced to 10 years probation by Judge Jean Hudson Boyd even though Tarrant County prosecutors were seeking a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment for the teen, sparking public criticism. Couch was also ordered to stay away from drugs, alcohol and driving.
In 2015, after Couch attended a party where alcohol was served, he fled to Mexico with his mother, Tonya Couch to avoid punishment, violating the terms of his probation. Couch and his mother were arrested in Puerto Vallarta after US Marshals and other American law enforcement agencies pursued them for nearly two weeks.
After being extradited to the United States, Couch was sentenced to 720 days in jail for violating the terms of his probation — 180 days for each victim. He was then released in 2018 after serving his sentence.
However, Couch found himself back in prison briefly earlier this year when he was accused of testing positive for THC — the primary psychoactive component of the cannabis plant — on a drug patch, according to CNN. He was released a day later, pending an investigation into whether the positive test result for THC came from illegal marijuana or cannabidiol oil.
In October 2020, it was reported that Couch apologized for the 2013 accident according to a report from Daily Mail. The publication obtained a copy of the book 'Affluenza Forgiven', written by victim Brian Jennings' friend, Tim Williams. According to the report, when Williams asked Couch if he was sorry for what occurred, Couch responded, "Of course I'm sorry.".
When asked why he did not publicly apologize, Couch responded, "Do you really think anyone wants to hear me say I'm sorry? Would that really make any difference? They all wish I was dead." Williams' visits to Couch in prison following his arrest in 2015 is the subject of Reelz's new special, 'Affluenza Teen: The Jailhouse Sessions' which also focuses on Couch's story.
'Affluenza Teen: The Jailhouse Sessions' will air on Reelz on Saturday, January 2, 2021, at 10/9c.