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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The mother of a fugitive teenager known for using an “affluenza” defense in a deadly North Texas drunken-driving case was expected to appear in a Los Angeles courtroom Tuesday for a hearing that could send her back to Tarrant County.
Prosecutors plan to ask that Tonya Couch, 48, be extradited to the Lone Star State, where she is charged with hindering the apprehension of a felon. She was deported from Mexico and flown early Thursday to Los Angeles, where she been jailed ever since.
Couch and her 18-year-old son, Ethan, were taken into custody 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. Her bond there was set at $1 million.
“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.
Ethan Couch 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, authorities say.
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.
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