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Mother of ‘affluenza’ teen booked into Texas jail

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  • Tonya Couch attends an extradition hearing at the Los Angeles Superior Court, in Los Angeles on Tuesday. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool)

FORT WORTH, Texas » Tonya Couch is back in Texas and in the Tarrant County Jail.

Couch, who waived her right to extradition in a Los Angeles County court, flew into Dallas/Fort Worth Airport on an American Airlines flight and was whisked away in a caravan of Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department vehicles.

Wearing handcuffs that were draped by a blue jacket and ankle cuffs, Couch was booked into jail and will be arraigned before state District Judge Wayne Salvant Friday morning.

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said he spoke with a subdued Couch at the airport.

“She was very quiet, very reserved, very respectful and appreciative,” Anderson said at a news conference.

Couch is accused of helping her son, Ethan Couch, flee to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, after he missed a juvenile probation appointment, and hindering his apprehension, a third-degree felony. The two were detained by Mexican authorities last week.

It is not clear when Ethan Couch will return. He remained in a Mexican detention center after taking legal action to delay his deportation to the United States.

If Ethan Couch agrees to return, he’ll be brought back to Texas by the U.S. Marshals Service, Anderson said.

Anderson said he is “totally unfamiliar” with the Mexican judicial system.

“If justice had been served the first time, we wouldn’t have had this issue,” Anderson said. “Ethan Couch should have been locked up.”

With seven passengers in his Ford F-350 pickup, Ethan Couch, who was 16 at the time, was driving drunk and speeding on June 15, 2013, when he crashed into a group of people trying to help a stranded motorist.

Killed were Breanna Mitchell, 24, of Lillian, whose car had broken down; Hollie Boyles, 52, and Shelby Boyles, 21, who lived nearby and had come outside to help Mitchell; and Burleson youth minister Brian Jennings, 41, a passer-by who had also stopped to help.

Nine other people were injured, including passengers in his pickup.

Ethan Couch, who had a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit, also had traces of Valium in his system.

Tarrant County prosecutors asked for Ethan Couch to be sentenced to 20 years in a state lockup, but defense attorneys argued that he would be better served in a rehabilitation facility.

State District Judge Jean Boyd, who has since retired, sentenced Ethan Couch to 10 years’ probation and to intensive therapy.

Because he was portrayed during his trial as an immature teen from a wealthy but dysfunctional family — with a passing reference by a witness to his being a victim of “affluenza” — Ethan Couch’s sentencing became a national news story.

He was back in the news late last year after a short video posted on Twitter appeared to show him playing beer pong at a party, which would be a violation of his probation. Missing the appointment with a probation officer is also a violation.


(This report includes information from Fort Worth Star-Telegram archives.)


©2016 Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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