Taxpayers Footed $200K Bill for Affluenza Teen's Rehab

Ethan Couch to appear before judge in adult court
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2016 3:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – Too rich to go to jail, too poor to go to rehab? In another twist in the Ethan Couch case, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that after lawyers successfully argued that the "affluenza" teen's privileged upbringing left him unable to tell right from wrong, the state ended up picking most of the tab for the rehab facility he was sent to instead of prison. According to court documents, Fred and Tonya Couch were found to be "financially unable" to pay the $20,000 a month cost of residential rehab at the North Texas Hospital in Vernon, and contributed only $1,170 a month, leaving Texas taxpayers to cover most of the $200,000 cost of his stay.

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Couch—who killed four people and severely injured several others in a DUI crash in 2013, when he was 16—has been behind bars since January, when he returned to the US after fleeing to Mexico with his mother following an apparent probation violation. He turned 19 in a maximum security prison on Monday, and a sheriff's office spokesman tells the Dallas Morning News there was "no party, no cake, no ice cream." His case is now in the adult system and he will appear before a judge Wednesday morning, who can either set him free or order him to spend another 120 days in jail before finishing his 10 years of probation, the AP reports. If he messes up during that time, he could find himself serving 10 years in prison for each of the four people he killed. (His mom is off the hook for extradition costs.)

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