Ethan Couch, who garnered fame for the “affluenza” defense used in a fatal drunk driving accident, has officially dropped an appeal to stay in Mexico and may return to Texas within 48 hours.
In December 2015, Couch fled to Mexico with his mother, Tonya Couch, after violating the terms of his probation. After a call for pizza delivery tipped off authorities, both were taken into custody in Puerto Vallarta. Tonya was released after posting bail and headed back to Texas, while Ethan had decided to appeal deportation charges to stay in Mexico.
On Jan. 26, he decided to officially drop his appeal against deportation and head back to his home state of Texas.
"He has withdrawn the legal challenge," said Fernando Benitez, Couch's attorney in Mexico, reports The Associated Press. "His return is imminent. At any time."
Couch was sentenced to 10 years of probation for intoxication manslaughter after a drunk driving accident that killed four people. His punishment was condemned and ridiculed by critics across the nation, as the “affluenza” defense used by his legal counsel was viewed as privilege rewarded with leniency, notes AP.
After violating his probation by allegedly attending a party where alcohol was being consumed, he may face charges in the U.S. and be tried as an adult.
"He decided that he would much rather face American justice than drag it out here in Mexico," Benitez explained.
Once he returns to Texas, Couch will be sent to a juvenile detention center. A judge will decide whether Ethan needs to stay at the center, serve a sentence in an adult prison, or change the terms of his probation.
On Feb. 19, a separate hearing will determine if Couch's case should be transferred to the adult system, reports Reuters. If it is transferred, and Couch continues to violate his probation, he could face up to 40 years in prison.