FORT WORTH, Texas, Jan. 21 (UPI) — Attorneys for the Texas teen convicted in a so-called “affluenza” drunk driving crash that killed four, said he will return to the United States in weeks, in time for a probation hearing that could determine if his case will be moved to adult court.
Ethan Couch’s attorneys said the 18-year-old’s legal team in Mexico will no longer fight extradition orders from the United States. Attorneys said Couch will attend a Feb. 19 hearing about his transfer to the adult system when he turns 19 in April.
“It is our understanding that paperwork has been filed by Ethan’s counsel in Mexico that will terminate the ongoing Mexican immigration proceedings. We believe that this will result in Ethan’s return to the United States within the next few weeks,” the statement said. “We anticipate that Ethan will be present in the 323rd Judicial District Court at the upcoming hearing on the State’s motion to transfer.”
Couch was 16 when he was convicted in a 2013 drunk driving crash and given what some see as a lenient sentence due to his “affluenza” defense. Attorneys said he was too spoiled to understand the consequences of his actions, growing up with a sense of entitlement and poor judgement.
In early December, Couch and his mother Tonya Couch fled the United States for Mexico, allegedly after the release of a video purporting to show him at a party watching a beer drinking game, a possible parole violation. Mother and son were found in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on Dec. 28 after a two-week search. Tonya Couch, 48, is free on bond after she was charged with hindering apprehension of a fugitive.
If his case is moved to adult court, it is likely he will face jail time and a more stringent sentence. Already, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers launched a #FightAffluenza petition demanding Couch’s case be moved. Within 24 hours, the petition received 30,000 signatures, MADD said.