The Latest: Lawyers: Willingness question won't help Couch

AP News
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Posted: Jan 19, 2016 4:22 PM

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The latest in the case of Ethan Couch, the Texas teenager who used an "affluenza" defense in a fatal drunken-driving accident (all local times):

3 p.m.

Juvenile defense attorneys say the argument that a Texas teenager known for using an "affluenza" defense in a fatal drunken-driving wreck was taken to Mexico against his will is unlikely to help his case.

Attorneys for Ethan Couch said Tuesday that the 18-year-old is dropping his deportation fight in Mexico as they investigate whether he fled there or was taken unwillingly.

Denton, Texas-based attorney Seth Fuller said the idea that Couch was taken unwillingly is "grasping at straws."

Authorities allege that Ethan Couch and his mother fled to Mexico in December as Texas prosecutors investigated whether he violated his probation in the 2013 drunken-driving case after a video surfaced that appeared to show him at a party where people were drinking.

Prosecutors have asked a judge to transfer his case to the adult system.

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2 p.m.

A U.S. lawyer for the Texas teenager who used an "affluenza" defense after killing four people in a drunken-driving wreck says the 18-year-old is dropping his deportation fight in Mexico.

Ethan Couch fled with his mother to Mexico in December and won a delay in his deportation based on a constitutional appeal that normally leads to a lengthy trial process.

His attorney, Scott Brown, told reporters in Texas on Tuesday that "documents have been filed to release the injunction" that objected to Couch's return to the U.S. He did not say how long the process would take.

Immigration and federal courts system officials in Mexico said that they don't have any information indicating Couch has agreed to drop his deportation fight. Couch's attorney in Mexico didn't return messages.

U.S. Marshals spokesman Trent Touchstone says he has no information about the status of Couch's deportation fight.

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10:10 a.m.

Attorneys for a Texas teenager known for using an "affluenza" defense say they're investigating whether the 18-year-old fled to Mexico or was taken against his will.

Ethan Couch's attorney, Scott Brown, said after a hearing in the case Tuesday that whether Couch "was voluntarily or involuntarily taken to Mexico is something that is still being investigated."

The juvenile court hearing was scheduled to determine whether Couch, who is being held in Mexico, violated his probation in a drunken-driving wreck that killed four people in 2013 and if the case should be transferred to adult court. But the brief hearing was delayed after Couch's attorneys said his parents weren't properly notified of the hearing.

Authorities allege that Couch and his mother fled to Mexico as Texas prosecutors investigated whether he may have violated his probation.

Brown says his defense team is investigating the facts and that the case is "an evolving process."

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9:20 a.m.

A hearing has been delayed to consider whether a Texas teenager known for using an "affluenza" defense violated his probation in a fatal drunken-driving wreck.

Attorneys for Ethan Couch, who is being held in Mexico, convinced a judge to recess the Tuesday hearing shortly after it started in Fort Worth. They say Couch's mother, Tonya, should've been notified.

No new court date was immediately set.

Tonya Couch is accused of helping her 18-year-old son flee to Mexico after prosecutors began investigating whether he'd violated his probation in the 2013 wreck that killed four people. She was released on bond last week.

Authorities say the pair fled in December, after video surfaced that appeared to show Ethan Couch at a party where people were drinking. Consuming alcohol would violate his probation.

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8:15 a.m.

A hearing is set in Texas to consider whether a teenager known for using an "affluenza" defense violated his probation in a deadly drunken-driving wreck, even though he remains in Mexico.

The hearing is being held Tuesday for Ethan Couch in juvenile court in Fort Worth. The 18-year-old was sentenced to 10 years' probation after killing four people in a 2013 wreck.

Authorities say Couch and his mother fled to Mexico in December, after a video surfaced that appeared to show him at a party where people were drinking. Consuming alcohol would be a violation of his probation.

Prosecutors are expected to ask the judge to transfer Couch's case to adult court, where he could get up to 120 days in an adult jail, followed by 10 years of probation.