FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — 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.
Airport police officers escorted Tonya Couch off of a flight after it landed at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. She was deported from Mexico last week, shortly after she and her 18-year-old son, Ethan Couch, were taken into custody in the resort city of Puerto Vallarta. A judge ordered her returned to Texas during a hearing Tuesday in Los Angeles.
The Tarrant County sheriff’s department said in a news release that Tonya Couch was being taken to jail. She faces a charge of hindering the apprehension of a felon, and her bond has been set at $1 million.
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.
Authorities believe the pair 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.
Tonya Couch’s attorneys previously released a statement saying she had 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 in a statement last week.
After the deadly 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.