Ethan Couch aka the “affluenza teen” was released from jail after two years and just a few days ahead his 21st birthday. The latest term was for a parole violation in connection to a conviction for killing four people in a drunken joyride when he was 16 years old.
Couch’s case made the headlines after a Texas judge ordered him to serve just two years in prison thanks to an elite defense team sponsored by his rich parents. In the car crash, four people were killed and one of his friends was left paralyzed.
After leaving Tarrant County jail on Monday, he will be required to wear an ankle monitor.
The affluenza teen would have faced 20 years in prison for manslaughter, but he got only two years after his lawyers argued that his upbringing barred him from understanding the consequences of his actions.
A volunteer chaplain who has counseled teen over the last two years said Couch was a changed man. “I haven’t seen arrogance in Ethan in more than nine months,” the cleric added. One of the four victims in the 2013 crash was the chaplain’s childhood friend, youth minister Brian Jennings.
On the night of June 15, 2013, the affluenza teen had a blood alcohol level way above the legal limit. He plunged his Ford F-350 pickup into a stalled SUV mowing down four people who were trying to get the SUV going. The SUV driver, two women who had come to help, and Jennings were killed instantly.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving has opposed Couch’s early release Monday. The group promised to support the family of his victims and continue to watch Couch to ensure that he doesn’t break the rules of probation.
During his trial, his lawyers argued that he was unable to be responsible for his actions because of his rich parents. Psychologist G. Dick Miller argued that the then-16-year-old was affected by “affluenza,” a condition not recognized by the medical community which puts the blame on his wealthy and dysfunctional family for his inability to know right from wrong.
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