‘Affluenza’ teen detained in Mexico
DALLAS — A Texas district attorney’s office says Mexican authorities have detained a teen who disappeared with his mother after video surfaced online showing he may have violated his probation for causing a drunken wreck that killed four people.
Ethan Couch, 18, and his mother, Tonya Couch, were taken into custody in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Samantha Jordan told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (http://bit.ly/1NMFGur) Monday night.
Jordan couldn’t immediately be reached for comment by The Associated Press.
Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson also confirmed to TV station WFAA that the two had been detained in the Pacific resort city.
Authorities began searching for the pair after Ethan Couch failed to keep a mandatory appointment with his probation officer on Dec. 10.
But Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson has said he believes the two fled in late November after a video surfaced that appears to show Couch at a party where people were drinking. If found to be drinking, Couch’s probation could be revoked and he could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
In June 2013 at age 16, Couch was driving drunk and speeding on a dark two-lane road south of Fort Worth when he crashed into a disabled SUV off to the side, killing four people and injuring several others, including passengers in Couch’s pickup truck.
Couch pleaded guilty to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury. Because of his age, he wasn’t certified as an adult for trial and a judge sentenced him in juvenile court to 10 years’ probation and a stint in a rehabilitation center.
During the sentencing phase of his trial, Couch’s attorneys relied on a defense expert who argued that Couch’s wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility — a condition the expert termed affluenza. The condition is not recognized as a medical diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association, and its invocation drew widespread ridicule.
There was no immediate comment from the U.S. Marshals Service, which had issued a wanted poster promising a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to Couch’s whereabouts and capture.