Judge sets terms for Ethan Couch's release
FORT WORTH, Texas - Affluenza teen Ethan Couch will have to follow some strict guidelines once he is released from jail in a few weeks.
Couch is set to get out of the Tarrant County jail on April 2, just days before his 21 birthday. But he still has several more years left on his probation.
Judge Wayne Salvant on Wednesday signed off on the extra conditions Couch will have to abide by for the remainder of his probation.
He will be required to wear a GPS monitor that gives him a curfew from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. He will have to drive with a camera-equipped ignition interlock device and submit to daily drugs and alcohol monitoring, according to court documents.
Richard Alpert was the prosecutor in Couch's case until he retired at the end of 2016.
"The time of incarceration he's had I'd like to think it would have changed him, but my position hasn't changed,” the former Tarrant County prosecutor said. “Ethan's character is what it is. His character was formed long before the conduct that brought him in contact with the district attorney's office. And I would be very surprised if he completes his probation."
Couch will only be allowed to take prescribed medications and he has to wear a substance abuse patch, an important condition for Alpert.
“I'm a firm believer of the interlock device and the scram device, but they don't detect drugs,” he said.
The infamous teen was sentenced to 720 days in jail in April 2016 – 180 days for each of the four people he killed in a summer 2013 drunken driving crash. Couch was 16 years old at the time of the deadly crash.
Couch avoided jail time initially after his lawyer presented the now-notorious affluenza defense in a juvenile court, claiming that Couch had a lowered sense of responsibility due to his wealth and absentee parents.
But Couch wound up being jailed after violating his probation and fleeing to Mexico in late 2015 with his mother, Tonya, shortly after video surfaced of him at a party where alcohol was being consumed by other teens.
Couch’s probation continues through February 2024. If it's revoked for any reason, he could get up to 40 years in prison for the four deaths.
"I would love for him to complete his probation. I honestly would,” Alpert said. “Because it's caused a lot of pain for the families to know that the chances he got that he didn't give their loved ones that he's flaunted them and abused them. For their sake, I'd like to think he's learned his lesson."
Ethan Couch's mother is awaiting her own day in court. After she was caught with her son in Mexico, she was charged with money laundering and hindering the apprehension of a felon. She will go to trial on those charges.