Mexican Officials Temporarily Block Extradition of 'Affluenza' Teen Ethan Couch Back to U.S. – But His Mother Gets Deported
Mexican officials granted so-called “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch a three-day delay in deportation after he and his mother were detained following a weeks-long search, a Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
The 18-year-old and his mother, Tonya Couch, were expected to board a flight from Mexico to Houston, Texas, on Wednesday, but, through their attorneys, filed a writ to challenge the extradition, the spokesperson says.
“Hopefully what happens is they’re returned to Texas and we’re able to move forward with our proceedings,” the spokesperson said of the mother and son. “But until [Ethan] is back here in the states, he’s out of our hands for now.”
Although Couch’s mother is named on the writ, she was deported from Mexico to the U.S. according to the Associated Press.
An official with Mexico’s National Immigration Institute told the AP that the suspect’s mother was put on a flight from Guadalajara to Los Angeles on Wednesday because immigration officials did not receive an injection that would temporarily delay her deportation like her son’s.
[IMAGE “1” “” “std” ]The U.S. Marshals Service tracked Couch and his mother to a Mexico apartment on Monday after the pair disappeared amid accusations that Couch violated the terms of his probation. They were detained on Monday.
Couch was convicted of killing four people in a 2013 drunk driving crash, but was spared jail time after his defense team convinced a court that his pampered, affluent upbringing left him unable to comprehend his actions.
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Couch and his mother spent three days in a condo at a resort in Puerto Vallarta before finding an apartment in a less glamorous neighborhood, the Associated Press reports. Officials say a phone call to Domino’s Pizza from one of the Couches’ phones led to their capture.
A Mexican official spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, but gave no specifics as to why officials agreed to grant Couch the three-day delay. The Tarrant County spokesperson says Tarrant County officials don’t know why the delay was granted either.
But the spokesperson adds, “It could be just that it’s such a high profile case that the Mexican authorities want to be sure they’re doing their due diligence on every level.”
Once Couch and his mother are back in Texas, the county will arraign Tonya on a hindering apprehension charge and hold a detention hearing for Couch, the spokesperson says.
Couch and his mother were being held at immigration offices in Guadalajara.
District Attorney Sharen Wilson previously said that if Couch continues in Juvenile court, he could face a maximum of four months of confinement for the deadly crash as a result of the probation violation.
“That, in my opinion, is not a sufficient punishment for the taking of four lives,” Wilson said at a news conference earlier this week.
She said prosecutors will request to transfer Couch’s probation to the adult court.