Fugitive "affluenza" teen, mother expected back in US


Ethan Couch, the teen known as "the affluenza kid", is expected back in the US Wednesday after he and his mother were apprehended Monday in Mexico after they went missing in mid-December. Authorities are investigating whether Couch, who killed four people in a 2013 drunken-driving wreck, and claimed as part of his defense that he suffered from "affluenza", has fled with his mother to avoid a potential violation of his probation.

The police report says that when the two appeared on the street, detectives approached them and asked them their names, and that the Couches showed an "evasive attitude". He would not give details about the event, including how many people attended.

"Afluenza" is not a condition which is recognised medically. In this case, authorities would be prevented from moving forward with Couch's deportation until the issue of whether deportation would violate his rights is resolved.

The U.S. Marshals Service says it's doubtful that either Ethan Couch or his mother will return to the U.S. anytime soon after a Mexican judge granted an injunction blocking his deportation from Mexico. It was not clear whether they had any accomplices. "We're still working through that with the Mexican government", he said, adding that "we are very happy and pleased that they are in the custody of the Mexican authorities, and they'll be returned to the United States here shortly".

Jalisco state prosecutor Eduardo Almaguer Ramirez said USA authorities knew the mother and son were in Puerto Vallarta because of a phone call to Domino's Pizza. The phone had been used to order pizza for a room at a condominium complex in the beach resort city. Agents set up a surveillance operation in the area and found the Couches that night. They were taken into custody and handed over to Immigration officials.

Ethan Couch's attorney, Reagan Wynn, declined to comment, saying in a statement he had not had the chance yet to speak with his client.

Anderson pointed out that in photos provided by the Mexican authorities Couch's hair was "markedly different, markedly darker". However, this did not stop Couch from participating in a game of beer pong in a video that was released online a month ago.

If the case remains in the juvenile system, Couch's probation could be revoked, and under that scenario, the maximum penalty he could face would be serving time in a juvenile facility until his 19th birthday in April, Jordan said.

Although prosecutors pushed for a 20-year prison term, Couch was sentenced to 10 years of probation and no jail time.

Couch will face a magistrate once he returns to Tarrant County. In adult court, Couch could receive 120 days in jail for violating the terms of his probation. He was sentenced to 10 years of drug-and-alcohol-free probation for intoxication manslaughter, a punishment condemned by critics as privilege rewarded with leniency. Sheriff Dee Anderson has also said that Tonya Couch also should be charged for aiding and abetting Ethan Couch's flight to Mexico. 

A wealthy teenager whose "affluenza" defence kept him out of prison for killing four people in a drink-driving crash has been detained in Mexico weeks after he and his mother disappeared. Because of his age, he wasn't certified as an adult for trial and a judge sentenced him in juvenile court to 10 years' probation and a stint in a rehabilitation center.

Couch had missed a mandatory meeting with his probation officer, prompting officials to issue a warrant for his arrest on 16 December.

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