'Affluenza' teen's mom returned to Texas to face charge
FORT WORTH, TEXAS — The mother of a fugitive teen who used an "affluenza" defense after killing four people in a drunken crash was returned to Texas on Thursday to face a charge of helping her son evade capture.
Tonya Couch, who was deported from Mexico last week, arrived on a flight from Los Angeles and was taken to Tarrant County Jail in handcuffs and leg irons. She is expected to be arraigned Friday on a charge of hindering the apprehension of a felon. Her bond was set at $1 million.
Authorities believe Couch and her 18-year-old son, Ethan Couch, fled Texas in November as prosecutors investigated whether Ethan Couch had violated his probation in the deadly 2013 drunken-driving wreck. They disappeared shortly after a video surfaced showing what appears to be Ethan Couch at a party where people were drinking.
Ethan Couch is being held at an immigration detention center in Mexico City after winning a court reprieve that could lead to a weeks- or even months-long legal process in Mexico.
Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said Tonya Couch was "cooperative" and respectful as she was being taken into jail. As for Ethan, he said, "it's not a question of if he's coming back, it's a question of when he's coming back."
"We're not concerned at this point," Anderson told reporters.
Tonya Couch's attorneys released a statement last week saying she has done nothing illegal.
"While the public may not like what she did, may not agree with what she did, or may have strong feelings against what she did, make no mistake — Tonya did not violate any law of the State of Texas and she is eager to have her day in court," lawyers Stephanie K. Patten and Steve Gordon said.
Patten did not immediately respond to calls Thursday seeking comment.
After the crash, Ethan Couch pleaded guilty in juvenile court to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury and was sentenced to 10 years' probation.
He received only probation after a defense expert argued that Couch had been coddled too much by his wealthy parents, a condition the expert called "affluenza." The condition is not recognized as a medical diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association, and its invocation drew widespread ridicule.
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