'Affluenza' teen to be deported back to US

  • 27/01/2016
Ethan Couch (Reuters)
Ethan Couch (Reuters)

Ethan Couch, the Texas youth known as the "affluenza" teen for using his family's wealth as a defence for killing four people in a drink-driving incident in 2013, has dropped a legal challenge to his deportation to the US from Mexico.

Couch, 18, and his mother, Tonya, were arrested in Mexico last month following a more than two-week manhunt. His mother was deported to the US last month.

"He has dropped his legal challenge.... Now it is over to the foreign ministry or migration," a Mexican judicial source said on Tuesday, adding they did not know when the youth would be returned to the US.

Couch was sentenced to 10 years of drug-and-alcohol-free probation for intoxication manslaughter, a punishment condemned by critics as privilege rewarded with leniency. He now faces the prospect of charges in the US for violating his probation.

During Couch's trial, a psychologist sparked outrage by saying in his defence that Couch was so wealthy and spoiled he could not tell the difference between right and wrong - hence, he was a victim of "affluenza".

Texas prosecutors say Couch is responsible for his own absence by fleeing to Mexico. His mother was returned to Texas and faces a third-degree felony charge for helping her son to flee that could result in a 10-year prison sentence if she is convicted.

"We've been hearing for a while that he is about to come back, but we haven't been notified of anything yet," said Tarrant County sheriff Dee Anderson.

US marshals are in Mexico waiting to bring him back, he said. Upon his arrival, Couch will be placed in juvenile detention, Anderson added.

If Couch is found to have violated his probation, he could be held in adult detention for about four months.

He faces a detention hearing in Fort Worth on February 19 to determine if his case will be transferred to the adult system. Tarrant County prosecutors are looking into whether he could face additional charges.