‘Affluenza’ teen’s lawyer: Maybe ‘months’ before Ethan Couch back in U.S.
Tarrant County, TX – A lawyer for Ethan Couch, the so-called “affluenza” teen, says it could be “a couple of months” before the 18-year-old is back in the United States.
Attorney Fernando Benitez told ABC News he believes the Mexican government was trying to deport his client in order to avoid the lengthy process of extradition.
Benitez said Couch was about to be sent back to the United States before a Mexican judge granted the teen a temporary stay, which halted the deportation proceedings.
“The reality is he has not committed a crime in Mexico,” Benitez said.
Couch and his mother, Tonya, were found in Mexico December 28 after going missing a few weeks earlier. The two entered the country as tourists but stayed longer than they were allowed to.
Ethan Couch was on probation for killing four people in a drunk driving accident in 2013, when he was 16. At the time, many were outraged that a judge sentenced him to probation instead of jail time, slamming his now-notorious “affluenza” defense — that he was too rich and spoiled to understand the consequences of his actions.
Did he violate probation?
In mid-December a warrant was issued for Couch to be taken into custody after his probation officer couldn’t reach him. He appeared to have dropped off the radar after a video emerged that allegedly showed him at a party where alcohol was consumed.
Couch had been ordered to stay away from drugs and alcohol for the duration of his probation.
The teen and his mother were found in an apartment in the resort city of Puerto Vallarta last week. Couch had dyed his hair.
“I don’t think you go on a vacation and disappear, and don’t tell anybody, and cut your hair and dye your hair, and hide out in a shabby apartment in a resort town,” Tarrant County, Texas, Sheriff Dee Anderson said last month. “They made a conscious decision to run, and they did.”
Anderson has also said the pair threw something akin to a “going-away party” before they disappeared.
Court dates in Tarrant County
Tonya Couch arrived back in the United States on Thursday. In video obtained by CNN, Couch can be seen in handcuffs with U.S. Marshals at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) upon her return from Mexico.
Texas prosecutors have charged her with hindering the apprehension of a felon and set bail at $1 million, which must be paid in Texas.
She has been in the custody of the Los Angeles Police Department since she landed.
Tonya and Ethan Couch have court appearances in Texas scheduled for January 14 and 19.
By Joshua Berlinger and Shawn Nottingham
Ben Brumfield and Mariano Castillo contributed to this report.