Fort Worth

Ethan Couch, ‘affluenza teen,’ caught in Mexico with mom, official confirms

Law enforcement glad to have affluenza teen Ethan Couch in custody in Mexico

Couch's mother Tonya fled to Mexico with him to avoid possible probation revocation after a video surfaced of the teen at a beer party.
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Couch's mother Tonya fled to Mexico with him to avoid possible probation revocation after a video surfaced of the teen at a beer party.

Mexican authorities have detained Ethan Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, in the beach resort town of Puerto Vallarta, the Tarrant County district attorney’s office confirmed late Monday.

Couch, 18, had been on the run since missing an appointment with his probation officer earlier this month — a violation of a 10-year-probation sentence he received for drunkenly killing four with his Ford F-350 pickup in 2013.

Couch and his mother were captured at about 6 p.m. Monday at an intersection in Puerto Vallarta after they couldn’t prove they were legally allowed to be in the country, ABC News reported early Tuesday.

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson, District Attorney Sharen Wilson and U.S. marshals have scheduled a 10 a.m. news conference Tuesday to discuss the latest developments in the Couch case, Anderson tweeted.

CNN first reported Monday evening that the Couches had been tracked down in Mexico.

About 11:15 p.m., Sam Jordan, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said she could confirm that they were in the custody of Mexican officials.

The Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department’s fugitive unit started searching for Ethan Couch on Dec. 16 after his probation officer found the home he rented with his mother, 48, near Eagle Mountain Lake empty.

Anderson previously told the Star-Telegram that he believed Couch fled because the district attorney’s office was investigating a video that appeared to show him clapping as friends played beer pong. The six-second video clip was sent out via Twitter on Dec. 2.

U.S. marshals joined the search for Couch on Dec. 18. They did not respond to calls Monday night.

His mother was later declared missing.

CNN reporter Evan Perez said Couch was to be turned over to U.S. marshals, attributing his information to “officials briefed on the matter.”

Couch’s sentencing

State District Judge Jean Boyd, who is now retired, sentenced Couch to probation on four counts of intoxication manslaughter in December 2013. Couch was also ordered to enter a “lock down” addiction treatment facility and not to drive or use alcohol or drugs for 10 years.

Prosecutors had asked that Couch be sentenced to 20 years in a state lockup.

In his closing statements, Richard Alpert, Tarrant County assistant district attorney, argued that if given a light sentence, Couch would likely veer off the path.

“There can be no doubt that he will be in another courthouse one day blaming the lenient treatment he received here,” Alpert said.

During a hearing in February 2014, Boyd told the families that her decision had nothing to do with the “affluenza” comment made by a psychologist during testimony on Couch’s behalf.

And she told the teen that he, not his parents, is responsible for his actions.

The crash

About 11:45 p.m. on June 15, 2013, Couch was speeding down Burleson-Retta Road in southern Tarrant County in a F-350 pickup with seven teenage passengers when he veered off the road, clipped an SUV and smashed into its driver and three other people.

Couch had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit and had traces of Valium in his system, according to court testimony

Killed were Breanna Mitchell, 24, of Lillian, whose SUV had broken down; Brian Jennings, a youth minister at a Burleson church who had stopped to help; and Hollie Boyles, 52, and her daughter, Shelby Boyles, 21, who had come from their house nearby to help.

Another 12 people were injured, including Sergio Molina and Solaiman Mohman, teenagers who were riding in the bed of Couch’s pickup. Molina suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Monica S. Nagy: 817-390-7792, @MonicaNagyFWST

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