Tuesday, it appeared that that "affluenza" teen and DWI killer Ethan Couch would be back in Tarrant County to face the limited music stemming from his flight to Mexico sometime late this week. He and his mother Tonya, who appears to have aided her son's flight following a missed probation appointment and a viral beer pong video, were booked on a commercial flight to Houston yesterday, but that flight was canceled.
Now, the Couches have filed a "writ of amparo" which is basically the Mexican equivalent of a United States writ of habeas corpus. Mexico makes the writ available to anyone within its borders, regardless of their legal status, in order to ensure that their procedural rights are protected. While the writ is being fought over, the Couches will not be subject to deportation and will remain in Mexican custody.
Chief Deputy United State Marshal Richard Hunter said at a press conference Wednesday that, despite reports that the hold on the Couches being deported could be lifted in as few as three days, he expects that the skirmish to get them back in Texas will last much longer.
"I've never seen one of these happen in three days," he said, before adding that the quickest writ resolution he'd seen took two weeks.
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More often, Hunter said, securing deportation in these situations can take as long as two months. That the Couches have enough money to pay for a strong legal defense only adds to the possibility that they'll remain south of the border for an extended period.
According to a police report from the Jalisco State Prosecutor's Office first obtained by The Associated Press, the marshals became aware of the Couches' location in Puerto Vallarta following one of the fugitives' use of a smart phone to order Domino's Pizza. The marshals alerted Mexican authorities of the duo's suspected whereabouts. When the Couches were spotted on the street, they were asked for their papers, and it became clear that they'd entered Mexico illegally.
When the Couches are finally returned to Texas, Hunter said they will be escorted on a commercial flight — hopefully to Dallas — by four Mexican immigration officials. When they arrive at the airport, they will be handcuffed and taken into custody by the marshals before being transported to Tarrant County. Tonya Couch faces potentially two to 10 years in prison is convicted of helping her son escape arrest. Ethan Couch, who is currently serving 10 years of juvenile probation, faces a transfer to the adult probation system and a likely maximum of 120 days in jail.