Ethan Couch, the "affluenza teen," is out of jail. He left in a Tesla

Ethan Couch, who became known as the “affluenza teen,” is released from Tarrant County Corrections Department on Monday.
Ethan Couch, who became known as the “affluenza teen,” is released from Tarrant County Corrections Department on Monday. Special to the Star-Telegram

Ethan Couch, the highly publicized and often criticized young man whose original sentence of 10 years probation for driving drunk and causing a crash that killed four people, is a free man.

Well, sort of.

Escorted by his attorney, Couch, 20, was released from jail Monday morning as dozens of media outlets — both local and national media — greeted him as he left the Tarrant County Community Supervision and Corrections Department. A media helicopter also hovered overhead as he left in a black Tesla.

Scott Brown, his attorney, said that "Ethan continues to be remorseful as he has been since the first day of this tragic event."

Couch, sporting reddish blond hair and wearing a black Under Armour hoodie, did not answer questions — such as "have you learned your lesson?" before riding off.

Couch 2015.JPG
Ethan Couch fled to Mexico in 2015 with his mother, which earned him a 720-day jail sentence that ended Monday. Star-Telegram archives

Under terms of his release, Couch will be confined to his home and have to submit to electronic monitoring. He will have to wear a GPS tracker and will be subject to a curfew that doesn't allow him to leave home until 8 a.m. daily, returning by 9 p.m.

Couch will also have to use an alcohol monitor and wear a substance abuse test patch as instructed by authorities. Couch will be responsible for paying for the monitoring and he must obtain a new patch every 10 days.

And he cannot operate any motor vehicle without a camera-equipped ignition interlock device.

It's not clear where "home" will be. His mother, Tonya Couch, was arrested last week after failing a drug test.

Couch was deemed the "affluenza" teen after an off-the-cuff comment by a psychologist during Couch's original trial in 2013 at which he had admitted responsibility — basically pleading guilty — to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury.

The psychologist had described Couch, at the time a juvenile, as a spoiled teen who grew up in a rich and dysfunctional family, as a victim of "affluenza."

The description stuck, especially after he was sentenced by Judge Jean Boyd to 10 years probation and intensive therapy.

"Ethan, you are responsible for what you did, not your parents," Boyd told Couch.

Couch was 16 when he was speeding in his Ford F-350 pickup truck on Burleson-Retta Road in southern Tarrant County and came upon people trying to assist a stranded motorist. He was drunk, with a blood alcohol level of 0.24, and crashed into the group, setting off a series of crashes that killed four people and injured 12.

Killed were Breanna Mitchell, 24, of Lillian, whose car had broken down; Hollie Boyles, 52, and Shelby Boyles, 21, who lived nearby and had come outside to help Mitchell; and Burleson youth minister Brian Jennings, 41, a passer-by who had also stopped to help.

Lives were lost, but the saga of Ethan Couch was just beginning.

After being sentenced he went through rehab and in December 2015 a video surfaced that showed a person who appeared to be Couch playing beer pong. He did not appear for a probation hearing and instead fled to a Mexican resort with his mom.

They were arrested later that month in Mexico and in April 2016 state district Judge Wayne Salvant sentenced Couch to 720 days in jail as a new condition of his probation.

That sentence ended Monday.

This article contains information from Star-Telegram archives.

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna

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