“Affluenza teen” Ethan Couch, who killed four people in a 2013 drunk-driving crash, walked out of jail Monday after just two years behind bars for violating the terms of his probation.
Before he was released, Couch was fitted with a GPS ankle monitor. His probation reportedly includes a 9 p.m. curfew and provisions for drug and alcohol use, which will be monitored via a substance-abuse test patch that will be changed every ten days, according to the Dallas Morning News. Couch turns 21 next week.
The teen was driving his 6,000-pound Ford F-350 pickup truck in Tarrant County, Texas, under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, and Valium when he hit a group of people who’d stopped to help a driver on the side of the road near Dallas. Couch had stolen beer from a store just before the crash, police said at the time.
Four people were killed and another nine were wounded in the wreck.
Couch was sentenced to just ten years of probation and no prison time in the juvenile court case after a paid defense psychologist testified that the then-16-year-old was so wealthy and spoiled he had never learned right from wrong—or “affluenza.” The case received widespread coverage and condemnation for what many saw as a lax sentence.
“The justice system has failed the whole world,” Marla Mitchell, whose daughter Breanna died in the wreck, told The Daily Beast in 2016.
Couch ran straight back into the national spotlight in 2015 when he violated probation by drinking—and playing beer pong—at a party. Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, then famously fled to Mexico to avoid arrest.
“It’s a good thing I didn’t choose to go to Mexico because there would be hogtie and duct tape involved when they found me with these people,” Mitchell said at the time.
Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said at a press conference then that Couch “continues to believe the law doesn’t apply to him, which is how he was raised. If he has enough money, he can get out of it.”
Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, were arrested in the resort town of Puerto Vallarta before being extradited back to Texas. The teen was ordered to serve 720 days in jail.
His mother was charged with hindering apprehension of a felony and money laundering. She returned to jail last week after failing a drug test.
“There have been too many lives that have been harmed by these people,” Darlene Goodsell, the mother of one of the teens in Couch’s car the night of the gruesome accident, told The Daily Beast in 2016.
But others disagree.
Tim Williams, a volunteer chaplain whose best friend, youth pastor Brian Jennings, died in the crash told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he visits the teen in jail regularly and hasn’t “seen arrogance in Ethan in more than nine months.”
He believes Couch is ready to accept his guilt and live healthy life.
“I am convinced that forgiveness works,” he said.