'Affluenza' teen wins stay of deportation in Mexico as mother flown to US
Fugitive “affluenza” teenager Ethan Couch has won a three-day stay against deportation, Mexican authorities told the Associated Press.
Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, were on Monday after ordering a Domino’s pizza delivery to a condominium in Puerto Vallarta. The arrest came 11 days after FBI agents and US marshals for the pair, who fled the US after Couch appeared to have violated the terms of his probation.
Richard Hunter, chief deputy for the US marshals service in south , said during a news conference in Houston that a three-day court injunction granted to Couch would likely take at least two weeks to resolve.
Tonya Couch did not manage to delay her departure and arrived at Los Angeles International airport on a flight in the custody of US marshals on Thursday morning. It was unclear why she was brought to Los Angeles instead of Texas, where she and her son live.
An official with Mexico’s National Immigration Institute told the AP that Tonya Couch was sent back because immigration authorities did not receive a judge’s injunction like the one that temporarily blocked her son’s deportation.
In 2013, Ethan Couch, from Keller, Texas, admitted killing four people in a drunk-driving accident. At the time, his lawyers said that he suffered from “affluenza” and that because of his privileged upbringing, Couch was unable to tell right from wrong and did not fully understand the consequences of his actions.
Affluenza is , but instead of the recommended 20 years in prison the then 16-year-old was sentenced to rehab and 10 years’ probation.
Under the terms of the probation, Couch was not allowed to drive, drink alcohol or use drugs for 10 years. Early in December, a six-second video appeared on social media alleging that Couch had violated his probation by attending a party where alcohol was served. The authorities have yet to determine that Couch is the man in the video. However, after the video surfaced, Couch’s probation officer lost touch with the teen.
Couch and his mother had been expected to be turned over to Texas authorities on Wednesday, , a local official for Mexico’s migration institute, said on Tuesday.
Following the stay of deportation, a judge in will have up to 72 hours to consider an injunction to delay his extradition.
It is unclear who is representing Ethan and Tonya Couch in Mexico.
“We represent Ethan concerning his juvenile matter in Tarrant County, Texas,” Scott Brown and Wm Reagan Wynn, Couch’s lawyers who are based out of Forth Worth, Texas, told the Guardian. “We are not licensed to practice law in the United Mexican States Mexico]. Accordingly, we do not represent Mr Couch in any legal matter in Mexico. We do not represent Tonya Couch in any capacity.”
“Is anyone surprised the Couch duo are putting up legal fight to not return and face justice? Not me. Will it never end?” Dee Anderson, the Tarrant County sheriff, . Anderson has previously said that Couch did not receive an adequate punishment for his 2013 crime.
The sheriff’s office, which was making arrangements to receive both Couch and his mother, has been told to “stand down until further notice”, Anderson told .
Couch and his mother had planned their flight from the US and even held a farewell party, Anderson said during a press conference on Tuesday. At the time, he announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Tonya Couch, for hindering the arrest of her son. She could face between two and 10 years in jail.
The district attorney has requested that upon his return from Mexico, Couch be transferred into adult court. Since the original crime took place when he was 16, his case is still in the juvenile court. If the case remains there and Couch is found guilty of violating his probation, he is likely to be sent to juvenile facility until his 19th birthday in early April and then be released on parole.
During the Tuesday press conference, a reporter asked Tarrant County district attorney Sharen Wilson if it would be possible for Couch to delay returning to the US until after his 19th birthday. Wilson dismissed the question.