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Mom of 'affluenza' teen appears in court

Posted at 8:58 AM, Jan 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-08 11:59:52-05

The mother of a fugitive teen who used an "affluenza" defense after killing four people in a drunken-driving wreck has made an initial appearance in a Texas courtroom on a charge of hindering the apprehension of a felon.

State District Judge Wayne Salvant advised Tonya Couch of the charge at the hearing Friday.

Bond has been set at $1 million. Couch's attorney has requested a bond reduction. He said he responded to Tonya Couch's complaints by saying it "is a jail, not a resort."

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said at a news conference Friday that Couch complained about the conditions in her Texas jail cell.

Authorities believe Couch and her 18-year-old son, Ethan Couch, fled Texas in November as prosecutors investigated whether the teenager had violated his probation. A video surfaced that appeared to show him at a party where people were drinking.

Couch and her 18-year-old son, Ethan, were apprehended in the Mexican resort city of Puerto Vallarta, 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 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.

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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