"Affluenza teen" Ethan Couch, whose drunk driving killed four people in 2013, was ordered by a Texas county judge to serve about two years in jail – four consecutive 180-day terms – but the judge said he will reconsider the sentence in a few weeks.
Couch, now 19, has been jailed in Tarrant County since January. On Wednesday, in his first appearance in adult court, he was given the almost 2-year sentence by Judge Wayne Salvant, the maximum allowable probation conditions for the case in the adult system, reported Reuters
Originally, he was sentenced as a juvenile to 10 years of probation,
"You are not getting out of jail today," Salvant told Couch, who was wearing a red jumpsuit from the Tarrant County Jail. Salvant said he will hold another hearing in about two weeks to consider the sentence he imposed.
The judge also issued a gag order in the case and accepted a defense motion to keep his juvenile records sealed.
Couch's father and brother were in court and declined requests to speak with reporters after the hearing. Relatives of the victims were also present.
At his trial in juvenile court in 2013 when he was 16, a psychologist testifying on his behalf said Couch was so spoiled by his wealthy parents that he could not tell right from wrong. The psychologist described the affliction as "affluenza," a term that quickly became a media buzzword.
His original sentence of 10 probation sparked outrage from critics who ridiculed the affluenza defense and said his family's wealth helped the teen stay out of jail.
Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said Couch's demeanor has changed since being in jail from being quite cocky at first to rather compliant.
The change is due to the "stark reality he is dealing with today," Anderson told reporters at court, adding Couch will remain in solitary confinement for his own protection.
Couch and his mother Tonya Couch fled to Mexico in December and were captured by Mexican authorities in the Pacific Coast resort of Puerto Vallarta.
They fled apparently to avoid arrest for violating the drink- and drug-free terms of the probation deal after video on social media appeared to show him at a party where alcohol was being consumed.
Ethan Couch has been behind bars in Tarrant County, which contains Fort Worth, after he was deported from Mexico in January.
Judge Salvant is also presiding over the case of his mother, Tonya Couch.
She is charged with helping her son flee to Mexico. She was released on bail but is under home confinement awaiting trial.
If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison.
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