FBI, U.S. Marshals searching for ‘affluenza’ teen

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Affluenza’ teen Ethan Couch who was ‘too rich’ for jail sentence goes missing.

Authorities are investigating whether a Texas teenager who killed four people in a 2013 drink-driving crash – and claimed as part of his defence that he suffered from “affluenza” – has fled with his mother to avoid a potential violation of his probation.Tarrant County Sheriffs say Ethan Couch is the top fugitive they are trying to find, and believe that he and his mother have not only skipped town, but possibly the country. Fort Worth, Texas — A manhunt was underway on Thursday for a wealthy Texas teenager, described at trial as being afflicted with “affluenza,” who apparently fled to avoid violating a probation deal that kept him out of prison for killing four in a drunken-driving crash. Prosecutors said on Wednesday they’re trying to determine whether Couch, 18, was one of the people drinking at a party in a video posted on social media this month.

According to Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson, it looks like Ethan, and whoever he is with, has gotten a long head start. “We all know the family has plenty of money and I think this was planned and they’re going to run far and try to hide”, said Anderson in an interview with Reuters. His lawyer argued Couch didn’t understand consequences because of his parent’s wealth. “If law enforcement can present to the DA’s office, facts that the mother in fact aiding in Ethan Couch violating probation, then there might be a basis for her obstructing justice.” “It would be up to a judge whether or not his probation has been violated. The FBI says arrangements are being made for the bureau to join the search as well Couch is wanted on suspicion of violating his probation by failing to check in with his assigned officer. The 18-year-old named by Tarrant County officials as Ethan Couch, and placed on the county’s most wanted list, missed his mandatory meeting with his probation officer, prompting a warrant for his apprehension to be issued on Dec. 11. On Tuesday, the juvenile-justice equivalent of an arrest warrant was issued for Couch, who received 10 years’ probation last year in his intoxication manslaughter case. “Ultimately, he will go before a juvenile judge to determine next steps, which could include up to his being detained at the Juvenile Detention Center until his 19th birthday in April,” she said.

The judge could find that he violated his probation and terminate his probation and sentence him up to ten years in prison.” (©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. Sam Jordan, spokeswoman for the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, said investigators with Juvenile Services and with the district attorney’s office are searching for the two.

Menikos oversees the 323rd District Court and is expected to rule on a request to move Couch’s case from juvenile court to adult court after Couch turns 19. It’s one of those times when you hate to say ‘I told you so,’ but I told you so,” Anderson said. “I knew he was going to end up in more trouble.” On the night of June 15, 2013, Couch drove his Ford pickup into a crowd of people who were attempting to assist a stranded motorist .

A psychologist who testified on the youth’s behalf at his trial claimed his condition of “affluenza” shielded him from responsibility for his actions but is not recognized as a diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association. When Couch was prosecuted in juvenile court, his lawyers invoked the affluenza defence that claimed his irresponsible lifestyle was due to wealthy parents who coddled him.

The county launched an investigation this month after a video was made public that appeared to show the teen among a group at party where beer pong was being played. A psychologist testified Couch suffered from “affluenza” because his family’s wealth and a dysfunctional relationship with his parents left him without a sense of responsibility. Couch killed 24-year-old Breanna Mitchell, whose SUV had broken down, and three people who had stopped to help: youth pastor Brian Jennings 41, and Hollie Boyles, 52, and her daughter, Shelby Boyles, 21.

The teen, who was 16 at the time of the deadly crash, had a blood-alcohol level of nearly three times the legal limit when he was speeding and lost control of his pickup truck. In the months after the crash, Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst asked the Senate committee on criminal justice to review how probation sentences are issued in adult and juvenile cases of intoxication manslaughter.

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