A Texas teenager who used an "affluenza" defense after killing four people in a 2013 drunken-driving crash was sentenced in an adult court on Wednesday to four consecutive 180-day terms in jail following a suspected parole violation.
Ethan Couch, 19, has been incarcerated in Tarrant County since January after being deported from Mexico, where he had fled with his mother.
In his first appearance in adult court, he was sentenced by county Judge Wayne Salvant. Prosecutors said it was the maximum Couch could receive under terms set when his case was transferred to an adult court from the juvenile system.
"You are not getting out of jail today," Salvant told Couch, who was wearing a red jumpsuit from the county jail. Salvant said he would hold another hearing in about two weeks to consider the sentence he imposed.
The judge 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.
He was sentenced to 10 years of probation, a penalty that sparked outrage from critics who ridiculed the affluenza defense and said his family's wealth had helped keep him out of jail.
Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said Couch's demeanor had changed since being in jail from quite cocky to rather compliant.
The change was due to the "stark reality he is dealing with today," Anderson told reporters at court, adding that Couch would remain in solitary confinement for his own protection.
Couch and his mother Tonya Couch were taken into custody by Mexican authorities in the Pacific Coast resort of Puerto Vallarta. They fled the United States after a video on social media appeared to show him at a party where alcohol was being consumed, which would have violated the drink- and drug-free terms of his probation.
Tonya Couch was charged with helping her son flee to Mexico. She was released on bail and is under home confinement awaiting trial. Judge Salvant is also presiding over that case.
If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison.
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