Texas teen Ethan Couch was apprehended in Mexico Monday after fleeing the US earlier this month — and he may come home to a worse situation than he was running from.
Couch, 18, was serving 10 years of probation for killing four people while driving drunk when he was 16.
He “became known as the ‘affluenza’ teen during his trial in juvenile court, when a psychologist said he was so wealthy and spoiled he could not tell the difference between right and wrong,” according to Reuters.
As he was 16 at the time of the case, Couch was tried in a juvenile court where he received his probation sentence. However, Texas prosecutors have been seeking to have Couch’s juvenile probation moved to an adult court and a hearing date was already set for January when he fled the country.
“We no longer have to be concerned about the best interest of the child,” Tarrant County Attorney General Sharen Wilson said at a press conference Tuesday.
If Couch’s current probation is revoked because he left the country, Texas law states that he will be sent to a juvenile facility until his 19th birthday — April 11.
“If we proceed in a juvenile sentence his maximum sentence that he will receive is four months of confinement,” Wilson said. “That, in my opinion, is not a sufficient punishment for the taking of four lives.”
By transferring his case to an adult court, prosecutors can potentially extend Couch’s probation, as well as send him to jail for 120 days. By comparison, April 11 is only 101 days after January 1.
“An adult judge can instate or enforce his 10-year probated sentence that was given to him before — which means he’d be on additional eight years probation,” Wilson said, according to NBC News.
The punishment for breaking probation is also more severe for adults, according to Wilson.
“If he violates his adult probation, he could be looking at 10 years on each death — which we would ask the court to stack — which is a potential of 40.”
Couch and his mother Tonya were expected to be sent back to the US Wednesday, but now have filed legal documents to stay in Mexico.
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