FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A teenager who used an “affluenza” defense in a fatal drunken-driving wreck will return to Texas from Mexico within weeks, and his case will likely be transferred from the juvenile to the adult system, his attorneys said in a statement Wednesday.
Ethan Couch has been challenging his deportation, but paperwork was filed to “terminate the ongoing immigration proceedings,” attorneys Scott Brown and Reagan Wynn said in the statement.
A Mexican federal judicial official told The Associated Press that Couch’s attorney in Mexico filed a document on Sunday seeking to lift the injunction that has kept the 18-year-old in that country. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak on the matter publicly.
Authorities allege Couch and his mom crossed into Mexico in December, as Texas prosecutors investigated whether Couch violated his probation after an online video surfaced that appeared to show him at a party where people were drinking.
Couch was given 10 years’ probation for the 2013 drunken-driving wreck that killed four, and the terms of the probation prohibit him from drinking. The case was handled in juvenile court.
Couch is expected to attend a hearing Feb. 19 on whether to transfer his case to the adult system, which his attorneys anticipate will occur when he turns 19 in April.
“It’s not a foregone conclusion that this will happen, but we certainly hope it does,” said Tarrant County district attorney spokeswoman Samantha Jordan.
He would then finish out his 10-year probation under the supervision of an adult court. If he were to violate his probation, he could face up to 10 years in prison per death.
Castillo reported from Mexico City.