Who is Ethan Couch? A Texas teenager who was on probation for a drunk-driving incident that led to deaths of four people after his defense argued he was a victim of affluenza was detained in Mexico.
The detention came after the location of Ethan Couch, 18, and his mother, Tonya Couch, 46, was determined by a cell phone they had used to order pizza. The information about the location of the phone, which was used to order pizza at a condominium complex, was given to authorities in Mexico by a U.S. Marshals Service agent.
The Couches had moved out when the agents arrived at the condo, as reported by NBC Dallas Fort Worth. The agents learned of the location of the duo’s new home – an apartment in Puerto Vallarta’s old town – from a tourism operator. The son and mother were handed to Mexican immigration authorities after being detained.
In 2013, Ethan pleaded guilty to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury. Ethan, who was 16 years old at the time, was sentenced to 10 years in probation. He was being sought for violating the terms of the probation.
Tonya has maintained that her son should not be held liable for the killings. “There’s just no chance that she will ever think he needs to be punished or held accountable,” Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said, as reported by Gawker. A warrant for her arrest for hindering apprehension has been issued.
At the time of Ethan’s juvenile court trial, the defense based its argument on an expert’s claim that he was a victim of affluenza. While the condition sparked outrage and immense criticism, it is not recognized as a medical diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association.
Sheriff Anderson said there was no hint of remorse on Ethan’s face after the incident. “We saw absolutely no guilt or bad feelings or sympathy toward the four families and the four lives that he’d taken,” he said.
Texas releases sentenced juveniles once they turn 19, which means that if Ethan’s case is still in the juvenile system, he would only spend a few months in prison. “We can move him to adult court and an adult judge can instate or enforce his 10-year probated sentence that was given to him before—which means he’d be on additional eight years probation,” Tarrant County District Attorney Sharon Wilson said.
Sheriff Anderson, speaking along the lines of Wilson, said, “I personally felt like justice was denied at the first juncture, and I had everything possible invested in this to get him back and I’m not apologizing for it. I don’t believe that the community and the public wanted anything less than us to use every available means to bring him back.”