Attorneys for a Texas teenager known for using an "affluenza" defense in a fatal drunk driving crash said Tuesday that 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 that whether his client "was voluntarily or involuntarily taken to Mexico is something that is still being investigated."
Authorities allege that Couch and his mother fled to Mexico as Texas prosecutors investigated whether he may have violated his probation in a case stemming from a drunk-driving wreck that killed four people in 2013. Couch was sentenced to probation rather than the lengthy prison term prosecutors has sought in the case.
Tuesday's juvenile court hearing was scheduled to determine whether Couch, who is being held in Mexico, violated his probation and if the case should be transferred to a criminal court. However, the judge delayed the hearing shortly after it started, after Couch's attorneys said his parents weren't properly notified of the proceedings. Another hearing wasn't immediately scheduled.
The drunk-driving case drew widespread derision after an expert called by Couch's lawyers argued that the teen had been coddled into a sense of irresponsibility by his wealthy parents, a condition the expert called "affluenza."
Couch was 16 at the time and driving at three times the legal intoxication limit for adult drivers, prosecutors said. Investigators said he rammed his pickup truck into a crowd of people trying to help a stranded motorist.
A juvenile court judge gave the teen 10 years' probation, outraging prosecutors.
Authorities apprehended Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, last month in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Tonya Couch was quickly deported and has been released on bond in Texas. The 48-year-old is charged with hindering the apprehension of a felon.
Ethan Couch remains in a Mexico City detention facility, where he is contesting his deportation.