'Affluenza' teen's mother deported from Mexico

MEXICO CITY -- 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 Wednesday, but a Mexico immigration official said his mother was being flown to Los Angeles.

Richard Hunter, chief deputy for the U.S. Marshals Service in South Texas, said during a news conference in Houston that a three-day court injunction granted to Ethan Couch will likely take at least two weeks to resolve.

Later in the day, however, the teen's mother, Tonya Couch, was put on a plane to be flown from Guadalajara to Los Angeles, an official with Mexico's National Immigration Institute told The Associated Press.

The official, who was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the woman was sent to the United States because immigration authorities did not receive a judge's injunction like the one that temporarily blocked her son's deportation.

Ethan Couch remained in the custody of immigration officials in Guadalajara.

Authorities believe the 18-year-old Couch, who was sentenced only to probation for the 2013 wreck in Texas, fled to Mexico with his mother in November as prosecutors investigated whether he had violated his probation. Both were taken into custody Monday after authorities said a phone call for pizza led to their capture in the resort city of Puerto Vallarta.

The ruling earlier Wednesday by the Mexican court gives a judge three days to decide whether the younger Couch has grounds to challenge his deportation based on arguments that kicking him out of the country would violate his rights.

Hunter said the legal manoeuvr basically takes the decision out of an immigration agent's hands and asks a higher authority to make the deportation decision. He said such cases can often 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 2013, 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.

Associated Press writer E. Eduardo Castillo reported this story in Mexico City and AP writer Michael Graczyk reported from Houston. AP writers Elizabeth Rivera in Guadalajara, Mexico; Emily Schmall in Fort Worth, Texas; and Mark Stevenson in Mexico City contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • U.S. Navy filing homicide charges against ship commanders over two 2017 collisions

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Five officers involved in two U.S. Navy ship collisions last year that killed a total of 17 sailors are being charged with negligent homicide, the Navy said Tuesday. A Navy spokesman, Capt. Source
  • Mormon church appoints 93-year-old ex-surgeon as president

    World News CTV News
    SALT LAKE CITY -- The 93-year-old former heart surgeon named Tuesday as the new president of the Mormon Church signalled his intention to make few changes in policy regarding the role of women and LGBT issues -- two topics that the faith has grappled with in recent years. Source
  • Michelle Obama adds 2nd Vancouver date to speaking tour

    Canada News CBC News
    Michelle Obama — lawyer, writer, former University of Chicago associate dean and former U.S. first lady — has added a second Vancouver engagement to her speaking tour. The second event, announced by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade Tuesday, will take place on the afternoon of Feb. Source
  • Republican official accused of 'amnesia' on Trump vulgarity

    World News CTV News
    WARNING: This story contains language some readers may find offensive WASHINGTON -- Republicans struggled to get their stories straight Tuesday as U.S. President Donald Trump's Homeland Security secretary became the latest GOP official to offer an inconclusive version of a meeting in which Trump is said to have used vulgar remarks that have been criticized as racist. Source
  • 'What would you do?' Good Samaritan who saved woman from cold hopes to set example

    Canada News CBC News
    Tuesday morning was shaping up like any other for Penny Tasco, as she listened to the weather forecast before jumping in the shower. Hearing it was –27 with the windchill and that snow was on the way, Tasco peeked outside her home on Paul Anka Drive around 6:15 a.m. Source
  • N.S. garage rebuilds vintage truck for man with terminal cancer

    Canada News CTV News
    A garage in Nova Scotia is helping a man from the Northwest Territories with terminal brain cancer realize his dream of seeing his 1965 Chevrolet pickup truck completely rebuilt as a gift for his 21-year-old son. Source
  • Chelsea Manning's U.S. Senate bid could upend Maryland race

    World News CTV News
    BALTIMORE -- Chelsea Manning's high-profile bid for the U.S. Senate threatens to upend the 2018 Maryland Democratic primary. The former U.S. Army private convicted of leaking over 700,000 classified documents has an uphill battle to defeat Sen. Source
  • Alberta monitors, makes contingency plans on road clearing in U.K. firm bankruptcy

    Canada News CTV News
    EDMONTON -- Alberta's transportation minister says they are making contingency plans to clear and maintain roads as they monitor the financial fallout of a multinational United Kingdom construction company. Brian Mason says for now they believe the bankruptcy of Carillion PLC won't affect the operations of its Canadian subsidiary. Source
  • 'Failure was not an option,' says Georgia firefighter who caught girl dropped from blazing building

    World News CBC News
    more stories from this episode'Failure was not an option,' says Georgia firefighter who caught girl dropped from blazing buildingA rare fly stands between a U.S. billionaire and his proposed Scottish golf course'Final act of the cover up': Dublin councillor blasts plan to turn last Magdalene laundry into a hotelFull Episode Source
  • Halifax considers banning plastic shopping bags

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- As the fight against the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag ratchets up around the world, Atlantic Canada's biggest municipality is looking to join the growing ranks of cities and countries banning, restricting or taxing single-use plastic bags. Source