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Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Latest: ‘Affluenza’ teen to remain in Mexico, for now

HOUSTON (AP) — The latest in the case of a Texas teenager serving probation for killing four people in a drunken-driving wreck after invoking an “affluenza” defense (all times local):

12:40 p.m.

Lawyers for Ethan Couch won a delay in his deportation based on a constitutional appeal in Mexico that could lead to a weeks-long legal process.

Known as an “amparo,” or protection, such appeals try to block a government action. In this case, Couch’s attorneys are asking a judge to prevent authorities from deporting him or holding him without contact with lawyers, family members or visitors.

Authorities say the 18-year-old Couch, who used “affluenza” as a defense in a deadly drunken driving wreck in Texas, fled to Mexico with his mother after he may have violated his probation.

A federal judge has three days to rule on whether Couch’s appeal is well-founded. If the judge rules in Couch’s favor, there could be a trial process in Mexico that can last for weeks or even months.

Such appeals are unique in Mexico because they are precautionary. 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.

10:50 a.m.

An official in Mexico says a teen fugitive from Texas known for using an “affluenza” defense has been granted a three-day delay in deportation.

An official with Mexico’s Migration Institute told Associated Press reporter E. Eduardo Castillo on Wednesday that 18-year-old Ethan Couch won a three-day court injunction.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he or she wasn’t authorized to be quoted by name.

Couch and his mother were scheduled to be sent back to the U.S. on Wednesday. It wasn’t immediately clear if his mother, Tonya Couch, also would be granted a delay.

Both had been scheduled to fly back to Houston after authorities said a phone call for pizza led to their capture in the Mexican resort city of Puerto Vallarta. They were being held at immigration offices in Guadalajara.

Couch’s attorneys did not immediately return calls for comment.


9:15 a.m.

Mexican police say the fugitive “affluenza” teenager and his mother spent three days in a rented condo at a resort development in Puerto Vallarta before finding an apartment in a less glitzy area where they were found by police.

A police report says 18-year-old Ethan Couch and his mother stayed at the Los Tules resort from Dec. 20 to Dec. 23, but were asked to leave because the condo’s owner was coming in for Christmas.

While at the condo, they called out for a pizza, which tipped police off to their whereabouts. By the time police showed up on Dec. 28, the mother and son were gone.

But one of the condo’s employees found them an apartment in Puerto Vallarta’s less glitzy center. She told them where Couch and his mother were staying, and Mexican detectives located the apartment and staked it out.

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.”

The report says mother and son were, “confusing about their names and mentioned they had no identification and no immigration documents.”


1 a.m.

Authorities say a teen fugitive known for using an “affluenza” defense and his mother are scheduled to depart for the U.S. after a phone call for pizza led to their capture in Mexico.

Eighteen-year-old Ethan Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, were being held at immigration offices in Guadalajara on Tuesday. An immigration official who is not allowed to be quoted by name told The Associated Press they were to be returned to the United States aboard a commercial flight to Houston Wednesday.

Couch was on juvenile probation after killing four people in a drunken-driving wreck.

Authorities began searching for the pair after Ethan Couch missed a mandatory appointment with his probation officer on Dec. 10.

Once returned to Texas, Couch will be held in a North Texas facility until a probation violation hearing Jan. 19.

Tonya Couch faces a two- to 10-year sentence if convicted of hindering apprehension.


Associated Press writers Elizabeth Rivera, Emily Schmall, E. Eduardo Castillo, Peter Orsi and Mark Stevenson contributed.

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