The mother of a Texas teenager known for using his wealthy upbringing, or “affluenza,” as a defense in a fatal drunk driving case made a brief appearance in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Tuesday and waived extradition to Texas to face charges.
Tonya Couch, 48, was flown to Los Angeles in the middle of the night last week after she and her son, 18-year-old Ethan Couch, were found in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where the teen had been on the lam for an alleged probation violation.
On Tuesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Sergio Tapia II ordered that Tonya Couch be remanded to the custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department without bail pending her pickup by Texas authorities.
In the short hearing, Couch stood inside a glass caged area. Tapia asked her, "Are you the Tonya Couch wanted by the state of Texas?" She replied, "Yes" and then the judge asked her if she signed the forms waiving extradition to Texas.
The judge remanded her without bail pending pickup by authorities from Texas, where she is wanted for aiding the flight of a wanted felon.
She is accused of helping her son flee the country and hide. The two were considered international fugitives after he failed to show up for a probation hearing.
In 2013, when Ethan Couch was 16, he killed four pedestrians near Fort Worth while driving drunk. He was sentenced to rehab and probation after a defense expert argued in juvenile court that he suffered from “affluenza,” an inability to tell right from wrong because of his wealthy upbringing.
The terms of his 10-year probation forbade him from driving or consuming alcohol, but last month a Twitter user posted a video that appeared to show Couch at a party where people were playing beer pong.
Couch and his mother disappeared shortly afterward and were found in the Mexican resort town after they ordered pizza and authorities traced the call.