'Affluenza' teen's deportation from Mexico delayed

HOUSTON -- The Texas teenager known for using an "affluenza" defence in a fatal drunken-driving accident likely won't return to the U.S.

See Full Article

anytime soon because of a Mexican judge's decision to delay his deportation, U.S. law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

Richard Hunter, chief deputy for the U.S. Marshals Service in South Texas, said during a news conference in Houston that a three-day injunction granted to Ethan Couch will likely take at least two weeks to resolve. Authorities believe the 18-year-old, who was sentenced only to probation for the 2013 wreck in Texas, fled to Mexico with his mother as prosecutors investigated whether he'd violated probation.

Hunter said Couch's mother, Tonya Couch, also won't be deported as originally planned Wednesday evening, though he didn't say whether she also had been granted a court delay.

The Couches were taken into custody Monday after authorities said a phone call for pizza led to their capture in the Mexican resort city of Puerto Vallarta. They were being held by immigration officials in Guadalajara.

The ruling earlier Wednesday by the Mexican court could lead to a weeks-long legal process if a judge decides Couch has grounds to challenge his deportation based on arguments that kicking him out of the country would violate his rights. The judge has three days to consider Couch's appeal.

But Hunter said such cases can take anywhere from two weeks to several months, depending on the priorities of the local courts.

"It also depends on the fact the Couches have legal counsel. And it seems to me, if they wanted to, they could pay them as much money as they want to drag this thing out," Hunter said. "We're hopeful that's not the case. We're hopeful the Mexican immigration court will make a quick and decisive decision and return the Couches to America."

During the sentencing phase of Couch's trial in the 2013 case, a defence expert argued that his wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility -- a condition the expert termed "affluenza." The condition is not recognized as a medical diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association, and its invocation during the legal proceedings drew ridicule.

"Couch continues to make a mockery of the system," said Fort Worth attorney Bill Berenson, who represented Sergio Molina, who was paralyzed and suffered severe brain damage in the crash.

Couch's attorneys in the U.S. issued a statement Wednesday saying they couldn't comment on the case because they weren't licensed to practice law in Mexico. It wasn't immediately clear which attorneys were handling the case in Guadalajara.

Mexican police say Couch and his mother spent three days in a rented condo at a resort development in Puerto Vallarta before finding an apartment. One of the Couches' telephones had been used to order delivery from Domino's Pizza to the condominium complex in Puerto Vallarta's old town, far from the glitzy resorts of the city's newer section, according to a police report issued by the Jalisco state prosecutors' office.

Agents from the prosecutors' office went to the complex, where a tourism operator told them that the people who had occupied the condo were asked to vacate because the owners were coming to stay over Christmas, the report said. The Couches then moved to an apartment, and the agents set up a surveillance operation in the surrounding streets.

On Monday evening, two people matching the Couches' description were spotted and intercepted. The police report said they behaved evasively, claimed to be carrying no IDs, gave inconsistent stories about their names and failed to provide proof of their legal migratory status in Mexico.

They were taken into custody and handed over to immigration officials.

In Texas, Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said Tuesday that the Couches had prepared to be gone a while, even dyeing the teenager's blond hair black.

"They had planned to disappear. They even had something that was almost akin to a going-away party before leaving town," Anderson said. He declined to detail the party, including how many people attended.

Anderson said Couch and his mother apparently crossed the border in her pickup and drove to Puerto Vallarta. No immediate charges were planned for others who may have known about or assisted with the plan, Anderson said. He noted that authorities have no evidence that Couch's father, who owns a sheet metal factory in North Texas, was involved.

The sheriff has said he believes the two fled in late November, after a video surfaced that appears to show Ethan Couch at a party where people were drinking. If found to be drinking, Couch could see his probation revoked and face up to four months in jail.

Authorities began searching for him and his mother after he missed a mandatory appointment with his probation officer on Dec. 10.

Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson said Tuesday that she planned to ask that Couch's case be transferred to adult court, where he could face up to 120 days in an adult jail, followed by 10 years' probation. If he violates that probation, he could face up to 10 years in prison per death, Wilson said.

Anderson said an arrest warrant was being issued for Tonya Couch on charges of hindering an apprehension, a third-degree felony that carries a sentence of two to 10 years in prison.

Couch was driving drunk and speeding near Fort Worth in June 2013, when he crashed into a disabled SUV, killing four people and injuring several others, including passengers in his pickup truck.

He pleaded guilty to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury. A judge sentenced him in juvenile court to 10 years' probation and a stint in a rehabilitation centre.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Skydiver wearing a wingsuit crashes, dies in California

    World News CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- The skydiver who fell to his death in a California vineyard was wearing a specialized jumpsuit that resembles a flying squirrel and undertaking an extreme but growing sport that can send people soaring through the air at speeds of more than 200 miles per hour (322 kilometres per hour. Source
  • Shocking images show torture, executions by Iraqi soldiers

    World News CTV News
    Warning: This story and the accompanying video include graphic images and descriptions of torture. A photojournalist who embedded with an elite group of Iraqi soldiers has documented point-blank executions and brutal torture of what appear to be civilians. Source
  • Maryland day care worker allegedly recorded herself torturing baby

    World News Toronto Sun
    BALTIMORE — A day care worker in Maryland was captured on video “torturing” an 8-month-old girl who later died, authorities said Thursday. She has been charged with murder. Leah Walden, 23, is charged with murder, assault, child abuse and reckless endangerment in the death of Reese Bowman at Rocket Tiers Learning Center on Tuesday, Baltimore Police said in a statement. Source
  • Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner now a focus of Russia probe [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    Investigators are focusing on a series of meetings held by Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law and an influential White House adviser, as part of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related matters, according to people familiar with the investigation. Source
  • Spry woman jumps on hood of SUV to thwart carjacking [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    What would you do if someone tried to steal your vehicle right in front of you? For one Wisconsin resident, the answer is simple: Go all Martin Riggs and jump on its hood. Melissa Smith was the victim of an attempted carjacking while filling up at a gas station in downtown Milwaukee Tuesday afternoon. Source
  • Grits fork over another $30M to keep Canada at F-35 table

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — Canada has quietly paid another $30 million toward development of the F-35 — money that could become insurance in the trade dispute between U.S. aerospace firm Boeing and Canadian rival Bombardier. The annual payment was made to the U.S. Source
  • Annual G7 meeting coming to Quebec next year

    Canada News CBC News
    Canada will play host to next year's meeting of G7 leaders at a remote luxury resort in the Charlevoix region of Quebec, The Canadian Press has learned. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to make the announcement at some point during this year's G7 meetings, which get underway Friday in Sicily. Source
  • Trump administration to appeal latest block to travel ban to U.S. Supreme Court [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination,” a federal appeals court said Thursday in ruling against the executive order targeting six Muslim-majority countries. Source
  • Nigel Wright broke ethics rules during Duffy affair: Watchdog

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — Former prime minister Stephen Harper’s one-time chief of staff was never prosecuted for his role in Mike Duffy’s Senate expenses fiasco, but now Nigel Wright is getting a belated slap on the wrist from the federal ethics watchdog. Source
  • Security guard suspended after he's caught on video throwing shoes at a homeless man

    Canada News CBC News
    A Toronto security guard has been suspended following the release of a video that appears to show him violently hurling a pair of shoes at a homeless person lingering on Yonge Street this week. Toronto police apologize for 'you're going to get AIDS' comment caught on videoThe quarrel between the pair began just after 8 a.m. Source