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'Affluenza teen' jailed in Texas for probation violation

Ethan Couch, who used family wealth as a defense in 2013 for killing four people while driving drunk, was booked into jail after testing positive for THC.
Image: Ethan Couch
Ethan Couch was escorted by sheriff's deputies after a juvenile court hearing in Fort Worth, Texas, in February 2016.LM Otero / AP file

FORT WORTH, Texas — A Texas man who used "affluenza" as a defense at his trial for killing four people while driving drunk was arrested Thursday after he violated the terms of his probation, authorities said.

Ethan Couch, 22, was booked into a jail in Fort Worth after he tested positive for the psychoactive compound in marijuana, court records show.

Couch's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Jail records did not indicate whether his bond had been set Thursday afternoon.

Couch became know as the "affluenza teen" during his manslaughter trial in the 2013 crash. Couch, who was 16 at the time, was found to have a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit for adult drivers. But a psychologist told a juvenile court that he was affected by "affluenza," or irresponsibility caused by family wealth.

A judge originally sentenced Couch to 10 years of probation. But he was later jailed after he attended a party where alcohol was served and then fled to Mexico with his mother to avoid punishment. He was released in 2018 after having served a nearly two-year sentence.

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In 2013, Couch lost control of his family's pickup truck after he and his friends had played beer pong and drunk beer stolen from a Walmart. He veered into a crowd of people helping the driver of a disabled vehicle on the side of the road. Authorities later estimated that he was going 70 mph in a 40-mph zone.

The crash fatally injured the stranded motorist, a youth minister who had stopped to help her and a mother and daughter who came out of their nearby home.

Tonya Couch, Ethan's mother, is awaiting trial on charges of hindering apprehension of a felon and money laundering arising from their fleeing to Mexico in 2015. She has been in and out of jail since then.