FORT WORTH, Texas — The Texas teenager who used an “affluenza” defense in a deadly drunken-driving wreck is expected to waive all detention hearings and stay in jail until turning 19 next month, a strategy that may be aimed at keeping him out of jail at the beginning of his adult probation.
Ethan Couch waived his right to a Friday hearing and “all signs point” to him waiving the subsequent hearings every 10 days that he’s entitled to under the juvenile system, said Tarrant County District Attorney spokeswoman Samantha Jordan.
His case will officially transfer to the adult system on his April 11 birthday. Jordan expects a hearing that week to set new terms of his adult probation. Couch could face up to 120 days in jail as a condition of his adult probation.
Although Couch won’t receive official credit for the time he’s currently serving, legal experts say a judge will informally consider that time, which is why Couch’s attorneys may choose to waive all detention hearings.
“They’re betting the judge won’t put him in jail at the beginning of probation because of the time he’s already served,” said Denton, Texas, attorney Seth Fuller, who is not involved in the case.
A judge sent Couch to adult court and back to county jail in February, and ordered a hearing to take place every 10 days while he is behind bars. The first one was to occur Friday. Couch has been held in a maximum-security county jail for nearly a month, in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day. Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson, who has described him as “passive” and “compliant,” has said that solitary confinement is for his safety.