The mother of a fugitive teenager known for using an ‘affluenza’ defense in a drunken-driving case agreed Tuesday to be sent from California to Texas to face a charge.
Tonya Couch, 48, appeared for an extradition hearing in downtown Los Angeles, where she was flown last week after being deported from Mexico. She said very little, answering ‘yes’ when asked if she is the Tonya Couch wanted by the state of Texas.
It’s unclear when she will be sent to the Lone Star State, where prosecutors charged her with hindering the apprehension of a felon.
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Tonya Couch, 48 (left), the mother of ‘affluenza’ teen Ethan Couch, appeared in California court on Tuesday and agreed to be extradited back to her home state of Texas
In Texas, she will face charges of hindering the apprehension of a felon. She faces a maximum of 10 years probation if convicted. Pictured above in California court on Tuesday
Couch and her 18-year-old son, Ethan, were apprehended last week in Mexico, where authorities believe the pair fled in November as Texas prosecutors investigated whether he had violated his probation in a car crash that killed four people.
Ethan Couch was being held at a detention facility in Mexico City after winning a court reprieve that could lead to a weeks- or even months-long legal process in Mexico.
Tonya Couch’s attorneys released a statement saying she had done nothing illegal and wanted to get back to Texas as soon as possible.
Mrs Couch and her son (pictured on December 28) were arrested in Mexico last month. Traveling out of the country was a violation of 18-year-old Ethan’s parole
‘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 in the statement.
She is being held in Los Angeles without bail until she is extradited to Texas, where her bond was set at $1 million.
Ethan was driving drunk and speeding near Fort Worth in June 2013 when he crashed into a disabled SUV, killing four people and injuring several others, including passengers in his pickup truck.
Ethan has been fighting extradition back to the U.S. and remains held up in a Mexico City jail (pictured on December 31)
During the sentencing phase of his trial, a defense expert argued that his wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility – a condition the expert termed ‘affluenza.’
The condition is not recognized as a medical diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association, and its invocation during the legal proceedings drew ridicule.
He was sentenced to probation.