Lawyer: ‘Affluenza’ teen Ethan Couch won’t fight transfer to adult court

Posted at 2:35 PM, Jan 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-29 14:35:11-05

Ethan Couch in Meixco.

An attorney for “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch, convicted in a 2013 fatal drunken-driving accident, said Friday that he will not fight the teen’s transfer to adult court.

A Tarrant County, Texas, judge ordered that Couch will remain in custody after being returned from Mexico, setting up a February 19 hearing over transferring his case to adult court as the next pivotal moment in the case.

Couch will likely remain in custody until that hearing, prosecutor Richard Alpert said after the hearing.

Couch’s attorney, Scott Brown, said they will not fight such a transfer, which could result in a 120-day jail sentence for the teen.

“We are optimistic that Ethan can complete, successfully complete, his probation once he’s transferred to adult court.” Brown said.

Couch attended Friday’s hearing, but his parents did not. He did not speak.

Whether the teen will remain in the custody of juvenile authorities, as he is currently, or will be transferred to an adult facility remains to be seen, Alpert said.

The 18-year-old disappeared in December, nearly two years into a 10-year probation stemming from the drunken-driving accident in which four people died. His mother also went missing.

They vanished after a video surfaced that appeared to show him at a party where alcohol was being served — a violation of his probation.

Authorities tracked Couch and his mother to Mexico, where they were detained last month. Couch was returned to the United States on Thursday.

Couch’s case drew widespread attention after his attorneys argued the accident was partly to blame on what they said were indulgent parents who failed to set limits for the teenager, who was 16 at the time of the fatal crash.

A psychologist who testified on the teen’s behalf described the condition as “affluenza.”

Brown said Friday that the teenager is sorry for what’s happened and concerned for his future.

“Just because he hasn’t come out and given a public statement to y’all doesn’t mean he’s not remorseful,” Brown told reporters Friday.

But prosecutors and family members said after the hearing that Couch has never apologized for anything or shown any remorse to families.

Even if his case is moved to adult court, the most he could be sentenced to is 120 days in jail.

But Alpert said authorities will closely watch him after his release and would move swiftly to revoke his probation should he violate it.

Couch’s mother, Tonya Couch, is facing a separate investigation. She has been charged with hindering her son’s apprehension and is free on $75,000 bond, CNN affiliate KTVT-TV reported.