‘Affluenza’ Killer|Fighting Return to US

     FORT WORTH (CN) – Captured “affluenza” killer Ethan Couch and his mother won a three-day stay from a Mexican court after fighting attempts to return them to Texas.
     Mexican authorities detained Couch, 18, and his mother Tonya, 48, in Puerto Vallarta on Monday after a two-week manhunt after Texas issued a juvenile-equivalent arrest warrant for Couch when he failed to check-in with a probation officer.
     It is believed he went on the run after a six-second video was posted on Twitter earlier this month that shows someone resembling Couch at a beer pong game. Couch is banned from consuming alcohol during his 10 years of probation.
     Couch and his mother were scheduled to be flown from Guadalajara to Houston on Wednesday and turned over to authorities in Tarrant County. An unnamed official with Mexico’s Migration Institute later told The Associated Press the Couches were granted a three-day deportation stay.
     Couch made headlines in 2013 when he was sentenced to probation and therapy after killing four people on the side of a south Fort Worth road while driving drunk. A defense psychologist testified at trial that Couch, then 16, was the product of “affluenza:” that his family believed wealth bought privilege and there was no rational link between behavior and consequences. Couch was deemed as having “freedoms no young person should have.”
     Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said Wednesday he was told the Couches’ attorneys filed a “legal writ” to stay in Mexico.
     “Is anyone surprised the Couch duo are putting up a legal fight to not return and face justice?” Anderson tweeted. “Not me. Will it never end?”
     Couch’s extradition could be delayed for months, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Richard Hunter said at a news conference Wednesday in Houston.
     “We do not know if the Mexicans have the highest priority on this case like we do here in America,” Hunter said. “It is on their time schedule. We have seen these things happen as quickly as two weeks to two months.”
     Hunter said the Couches were captured after American officials passed an address to Mexican officials. He said the Mexican agent took them into immigration custody and decided they were subject to deportation.
     “They were asked if they were Mexican citizens – of course they are not,” Hunter said. “They were asked if they have proper documentation, they did not. Upon hiring counsel, the amparo was filed. Now it’s up to an immigration court to decide if the immigration agent’s decision was correct and has merit.”
     Hunter expressed frustration at the filing, which he said contained the signatures of several attorneys the duo seems to have hired in Mexico.
     “It seems to me that if they wanted to, they would pay them as much money as they want to and drag this thing out as long as they want to,” he said.”
     Upon Couch’s return, he will face at most four months at a juvenile facility until his 19th birthday because his case is still in juvenile court, Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson said Tuesday.
     “That probation can be revoked – it is an anomaly of Texas law that if we revoke his juvenile sentence he would be held at a juvenile facility until his 19th birthday, which is April 11, 2016,” Wilson said. “His maximum sentence is four months in confinement. That, in my opinion, is not a sufficient punishment for the taking of four lives.”
     Only if Couch violates probation again in the adult system will he face more jail time – 10 years for each of his four intoxication manslaughter convictions, Wilson said.
     “I wish the system were different,” she said. “Our system of law means the best result in this cause would be – in our opinion – to get him in adult court.”

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