‘Affluenza’ teen Ethan Couch back in Texas after being deported from Mexico
The American teenager derided for a defense of “affluenza” in the killing four people while driving drunk arrived back in Texas on Thursday, where he faces detention, after being deported from Mexico.
Ethan Couch, 18, was seen with his hands behind his back being escorted by uniformed officers through the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. He was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and had grown a beard.
He fled to Mexico with his mother in December after a video emerged on social media that likely showed him in violation of the probation deal reached in juvenile court that kept him out of prison for causing the deadly crash in 2013.
Couch will be placed in a juvenile detention center. He faces a detention hearing on either Friday or Monday, at which a judge will determine whether to transfer the case from the juvenile system to the adult system, said a spokeswoman for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office.
Couch was 16 when he was tried as a juvenile. A psychiatrist testifying on his behalf said he had “affluenza,” as his family’s wealth had left him so spoiled that it impaired his judgment to tell right from wrong.
The affluenza diagnosis, not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, was widely ridiculed.
“It’s more than overdue for Couch to be held accountable after taking the lives of four people, and injuring several others,” activist group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) said in a statement.
If he is found to have violated the probation deal, Couch faces about four months behind bars. His mother, Tonya Couch, faces up to 10 years in prison for helping her son flee to Mexico.
Couch’s lawyers may seek to transfer him to the adult system so he can apply for bail, an option not available in the juvenile system, a legal official familiar with the case said.
The two were arrested in Mexico last month following an over two-week-long manhunt. His mother was deported to the United States last month and has since been freed on bond.
In a video sent by Mexican authorities, Ethan Couch could be seen signing papers before being accompanied by Mexican officials onto the plane.
He was sentenced in Tarrant County, Texas to 10 years of drug-and-alcohol-free probation for intoxication manslaughter, a punishment condemned by critics as privilege rewarded with leniency.
His parents are separated and his father runs a metal works company that specializes in roofing.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz and Gabriel Stargardter; editing by Simon Gardner and G Crosse)
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by the Associated Press, below: