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US ‘affluenza’ teen wins Mexico deportation delay

December 30, 2015
MEXICO CITY — A fugitive U.S. teenager on Wednesday won a three-day delay from deportation from Mexico where he was detained weeks after fleeing probation imposed for a deadly drunk-driving crash in Texas.
Ethan Couch
A handout photo released by the Jalisco State Public Prosecutor's Office of U.S. "affluenza teen" Ethan Couch at the Public Prosecutor's Office in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Sate, Mexico on Dec. 28, 2015. AFP/Fiscalia de Jalisco

An official at the National Migration Institute told AFP that lawyers for Ethan Couch, 18, had secured a court order to stop the deportation process for 72 hours.

The institute has yet to receive a similar petition for his mother, Tonya, who was detained with him this week, and if she fails to get one she will be deported later Wednesday, the official said.

Authorities in Texas say they hope that Couch, whose case became notorious because of his legal team’s “affluenza” defense, will face adult justice whenever he returns home. An arrest warrant was issued for his mother.

He and his mother are currently held at a migration facility in the western city of Guadalajara in Jalisco state.

Couch will be deported in 72 hours unless a judge grants him a longer stay, which would require authorities to hold him at a migration center until his case is resolved — in a legal process that can take months.

“He is obviously trying to delay his return to the United States,” the Mexican official said on condition of anonymity, adding that Couch has little chance of avoiding deportation.

“It was proven that they (Ethan and Tonya Couch) entered the country illegally,” the official said. “There are no precedents that would go in his favor.”

Richard Hunter, the chief deputy for the U.S. Marshals Service in the southern district of Texas, said the Couches were taken into custody after they failed to show proper documentation to a Mexican migration agent.

“We’re hopeful the Mexican immigration court will make a quick and decisive decision and return the Couches to America,” Hunter told reporters.

‘Affluenza’ teen

Ethan and Tonya Couch were detained on a street of the resort of Puerto Vallarta on Monday night. The son had dyed his blond hair and beard black.

In Texas, authorities said the pair had carefully planned their escape, even throwing “something almost akin to a going-away party.”

In 2013, the teen crashed his pickup into a group of pedestrians and another vehicle, leaving four dead and several seriously injured. Couch, who was 16 at the time, had a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit for an adult.

The son of millionaire parents made headlines during his trial when a psychologist testifying on his behalf claimed he suffered from “affluenza.”

The term, coined from affluence and influenza, implied that financial privilege made him unable to understand the consequences of his actions.

Couch pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter. Prosecutors had sought a 20-year prison term, but the court handed him a surprise sentence of mental health treatment and a decade of probation.

The leniency came as a shock to many Americans, especially after the teen expressed no remorse and did not spend a single night behind bars.

Couch disappeared earlier this month after he missed a mandatory meeting with his probation officer.

He apparently vanished after the emergence of a video showing Couch at a party taking part in a drinking game, which violated the terms of his probation.

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