Texas ‘affluenza teen’ to be released; drug test questioned

This Dec. 28, 2015 photo released by Mexico's Jalisco state prosecutor's office shows who authorities identify as Ethan Couch, after he was taken into custody in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. U.S. authorities said the Texas teenager serving probation for killing four people in a drunken-driving wreck after invoking an "affluenza" defense, was in custody in Mexico, weeks after he and his mother disappeared. (Mexico's Jalisco state prosecutor's office via AP)

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A Texas man who used “affluenza” as a defense at his trial for killing four people while driving drunk is set to be released from jail after prosecutors expressed uncertainty about a drug test result that led to his arrest for an alleged probation violation.

Ethan Couch was arrested Thursday, and court records indicated he had he tested positive for THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana. But the 22-year-old is scheduled to be be released from a Forth Worth jail either Friday or Monday ahead of further investigation and testing, his lawyers said. A spokeswoman for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office confirmed he is to be released.

Couch was arrested after probation officers reported that a drug monitoring patch he wears returned a “weak positive” result for THC, District Attorney Sharen Wilson said in a statement. But it is possible the patch was set off by by legal CBD oil and it will take further testing to be sure, she said.

Couch’s lawyers said they are optimistic the tests will verify he did not use a prohibited substance.

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“Ethan is committed to his sobriety and to remaining compliant with all of the terms and conditions imposed by the court,” attorneys Scott Brown and Reagan Wynn said in a statement.

A court officer declined to comment. The Tarrant County probation office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Couch became known as the “affluenza teen” during his manslaughter trial for the 2013 crash. Couch, 16 at the time of the crash, was found to have a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit for adult drivers after the crash. But a psychologist told a juvenile court that he was affected by “affluenza,” or irresponsibility caused by family wealth.

A judge originally sentenced Couch to 10 years of probation. But he was later jailed after attending a party where alcohol was served and then fleeing to Mexico with his mother to avoid punishment. He was released in 2018 after serving a nearly two-year sentence.