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‘Affluenze Teen’ sentenced to 2 years in prison

A federal judge sentenced infamous “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch to 720 days for killing four people in a June 2013 drunk-driving accident. Couch, who turned 19 on Monday, received 10 years’ probation in juvenile court following the car crash. He was accused of violating the terms of his juvenile probation after a video surfaced online last December that appeared to show him at a party where alcohol was served. He and his mother fled to Mexico, evading authorities for several weeks.

Wednesday’s hearing was Couch’s first appearance in adult court. Couch entered the court wearing a red jumpsuit and was seen sporting long hair and a beard.  Couch was brought back to Texas in January and transferred out of the juvenile system and into adult jail in February. Sixteen years old at the time of crash, Couch had nearly three times the legal limit of blood-alcohol levels for an adult drivers. During his trial, a defense witness said his wealthy parents coddled him so much that it gave him no sense of responsibility — a condition the expert referred to as “affluenza.”

Authorities say Couch’s mother arranged their escape to Mexico and have charged her with hindering the apprehension of a felon. She faces two to 10 years in prison. The terms will be served consecutively. It was not clear whether that would include the time Couch has already spent in jail. Couch has been serving time in a Tarrant County jail cell since his return from Mexico. MADD President Colleen Sheehey-Church released a statement saying:

We were gratified that our voice was heard this morning and the judge ordered the maximum number of days allowable by Texas law, giving Ethan Couch the birthday present he deserves — jail time. This is a small victory — after all 720 days in jail is nothing compared to the victims’ lifetime sentence.”

During the hearing Wednesday, the judge agreed with the defense team to seal all records transferred from juvenile court, so they will now be protected. Salvant also discussed his gag order issued Monday to keep lawyers from sharing their opinions on the case publicly, saying it may hinder the pending case against Couch’s mother, Tonya. A gag order was issued for her case in January. Salvant is presiding over her case as well.

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