MEXICO CITY The wealthy Texas youth known as the "affluenza" teen after he killed four people in a drunk driving incident in 2013 will be deported to the United States imminently after dropping a legal challenge in Mexico, his lawyer said on Tuesday.
Ethan Couch, 18, and his mother, Tonya, were arrested in Mexico last month following a more than two-week manhunt. His mother was deported to the United States last month.
"He has withdrawn the legal challenge," said Fernando Benitez, Couch's lawyer in Mexico. "His return is imminent. At any time."
Mexican authorities have not yet announced a date for his deportation.
Couch was sentenced to 10 years of drug-and-alcohol-free probation for intoxication manslaughter, a punishment condemned by critics as privilege rewarded with leniency. He now faces the prospect of charges in the United States for violating his probation.
During Couch's trial, a psychologist sparked outrage by saying in his defense that Couch was so wealthy and spoiled he could not tell the difference between right and wrong - hence, he was a victim of "affluenza."
Tarrant County, Texas, prosecutors say Couch is responsible for his own absence by fleeing to Mexico. His mother was returned to Texas and faces a third-degree felony charge for helping her son to flee that could result in a 10-year prison sentence if she is convicted.
"We've been hearing for a while that he is about to come back, but we haven't been notified of anything yet," said Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson.
U.S. marshals are in Mexico and are waiting to bring him back, he said. Upon his arrival, Couch will be placed in juvenile detention, Anderson added.
If Couch is found to have violated his probation, he could be held in adult detention for about four months.
He faces a detention hearing in Fort Worth on Feb. 19 to determine if his case will be transferred to the adult system. Tarrant County prosecutors are looking into whether he could face additional charges.
(With reporting by Marice Richter and Jon Herskovitz in Texas; Writing by Simon Gardner; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Lisa Shumaker)
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