Ethan Couch, who killed four people in ‘affluenza’ case, had a ‘weak positive’ THC result after his arrest, authorities say
Ethan Couch, known for the “affluenza” defense in his deadly drunk driving case in 2013, had a “weak positive” result on a drug patch he wore after being arrested Thursday, officials said Friday. His lawyers said he was released from custody.
Couch, 22, was accused Thursday of testing positive for THC on a drug patch, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported, citing court records.
A drug patch adheres to a person’s skin and can detect drugs that come out in sweat. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.
The Tarrant County Probation Office said they “did not have confidence” in Friday’s result, according to a statement from the county’s Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson. At this point, Wilson’s office cannot tell if the result was caused by legal CBD oil or illegal marijuana, the statement says.
Couch was released from custody Friday afternoon “pending further investigation and additional testing,” his attorneys, Scott Brown and Reagan Wynn, said in a statement to CNN.
“We are optimistic the additional testing will verify Ethan has not knowingly and voluntarily used alcohol, THC, or any other prohibited substance since being released from custody more than 20 months ago,” the statement read. “Ethan is committed to his sobriety and to remaining compliant with all of the terms and conditions imposed by the Court.”
Couch first made headlines as a teenager when he was sentenced in 2013 to 10 years of probation for a drunken driving crash that killed four people and seriously injured two others.
Prosecutors in that case sought 20 years in prison, but Couch received no prison time after a psychologist testified that Couch was a victim of “affluenza,” a product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for him.
The decision by the juvenile court judge to put him on probation outraged victims’ families and anti-drunk driving advocates.
In 2015, Couch violated the terms of his probation and fled to Mexico with his mother, Tonya Couch. They were found and sent back to the United States, where a Texas judge in adult court ordered nearly two years of jail time for Couch.
The fatal wreck
In June 2013, the pickup that Couch, then 16, was driving plowed into four pedestrians on a road in Burleson, Texas, authorities had said.
Hollie Boyles and her daughter, Shelby, had left their home to help Breanna Mitchell, whose SUV had broken down. Brian Jennings, a youth pastor, was driving past and also stopped to help. They were all killed.
Two people riding in the bed of the pickup were tossed in the crash and severely injured. One of them suffered a brain injury and filed a lawsuit against the Couch family, which was settled.
Three hours after the crash, tests showed Couch had a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit, according to the district attorney’s office.
CNN’s Ashley Killough, Amanda Watts and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.