“Affluenza teen” Ethan Couch is dropping his fight against returning to his hometown of Texas, his attorneys stated on Tuesday.
CBS News reports that one of Couch’s attorneys, Fernando Benitez, filed the documents to stop his client’s deportation fight, which will “release an injunction and let the (transfer) process go forward.” Couch’s lawyers didn’t say how long it would take before the teen returns to the U.S., but according to Mexican officials, they’ve not seen anything yet that indicates that Couch filed to drop his deportation fight.
Scott Brown, one of the attorneys representing 18-year-old Couch, stated that the legal team decided to stop his deportation fight after the teen was treated fairly by the Mexican government.
“They believe that he has been treated fairly by the Mexican government and all his rights are being protected. A document has been filed to release the injunction and let the process go forward.”
Couch has remained in Mexico since December, after he fled Texas with his mother, 48-year-old Tonya Couch. Ethan Couch allegedly left the U.S. after violating his 10-year probation sentence, which stemmed from his drunk driving accident in the Fort Worth in 2013, that left four people dead and many others injured.
The Dallas Morning News reports that on Tuesday, the Tarrant County juvenile court judge Timothy Menikos postponed the hearing to determine if Couch should be sent to an adult court. Prosecution lawyers were scheduled to argue why Couch’s case should be handled as an adult case, but since he was not present in court, the proceedings were delayed.
Prosecutors in Couch’s case are hoping to transfer his case over to adult in April, when the “affluenza teen” reaches his 19th birthday and the juvenile court loses jurisdiction over the case. Once the juvenile court loses jurisdiction, Couch can be released from his sentence. Yet, if his case is transferred to adult court, he could possibly face jail time.
Prosecutors reminded Judge Menikos on Tuesday that Couch went to Mexico on his own, a direct violation of his probation, and therefore, the arguments to send him to adult court should proceed.
“He traveled apparently on his own to Mexico. He is not present today but the state is ready to move forward.”
Yet, Jude Menikos expressed concern over Couch’s parents not being properly notified of the hearing. Although Ethan Couch is now 18, his parents are still considered his guardians as he was sentenced for his crime while he was still underage.
A spokeswoman for the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, Samantha Jordan, admitted that although the parents were supposed to be notified of the hearing, “that apparently did not take place.”
Meanwhile, despite prosecutors stating that Couch went to Mexico on his own, Brown insinuated that that he may have been taken to Mexico against his will.
During the Tuesday morning hearing, Brown declared that there isn’t any proof that Ethan Couch “voluntarily absented himself” from the hearing. Yet, when question if Brown was claiming that his client didn’t voluntarily flee to Mexico, the attorney said that it was still “being investigated.”
“I don’t think that’s what I said. As far as Ethan being taken against his will, we are examining the facts, investigating the facts. This is an evolving process, and whether he was involuntarily or involuntarily taken to Mexico is something that’s being investigated.”
For now, Ethan Couch remains in a Mexico City detention center, where he’s allowed unlimited access to phone calls and visits with his attorneys.
[Photo by Jalisco State Prosecutor’s Office]