Ethan Couch's defense argued he'd been coddled by his wealthy parents and didn't know the difference between right and wrong

By Jeff Truesdell
April 02, 2018 12:35 PM
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Ethan Couch, the Texas man nicknamed the “affluenza teen” after he killed four pedestrians in a drunk driving crash in 2013, was released from jail Monday morning, PEOPLE confirms.

Couch was 16 at the time of the crash. His case drew notoriety when his defense argued that his wealthy, coddled upbringing preventing him from understanding the consequences of his actions.

Originally convicted and given 10 years’ probation in juvenile court, Couch was sent to jail in April 2016 for 720 days after an online video surfaced of him at a party where alcohol was served.

After that video surfaced on social media, Couch and his mother fled to Mexico in violation of Couch’s probation, which also forbade Couch, now 20, from using drugs or alcohol.

Ethan Couch
Ethan Couch
| Credit: Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS/Getty

The two were caught in December 2015 in the Mexican resort town of Puerto Vallarta. Officials later charged the mother, Tonya Couch, with hindering the prosecution of a felon and money laundering, with the latter charge accusing her of withdrawing $30,000 from a bank account before leaving the U.S. for Mexico

Tonya Couch, 50, pleaded not guilty and was free on bond pending her trial next month on the charges, but was jailed March 28 following an alleged failed drug test, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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Her son now returns to the terms of his remaining probationary period.

The advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving spoke out against Couch’s release, releasing a statement saying his remaining probation is “small consolation” for the victims, according to local TV station NBC5 in Dallas-Fort Worth.

“Two years in jail for four people killed is a grave injustice to the victims and their families who have been dealt life sentences because of one person’s devastating decision to drink and drive,” the organization’s statement said.