Prosecutors: Mom of teen who used 'affluenza' defense in deadly wreck violated bond

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Prosecutors: Mom of 'affluenza' teen violated bond (KTRK)

Prosecutors are asking a judge to revoke the bond posted by the mother of a Texas teenager who used an "affluenza" defense after he killed four people in a 2013 drunken-driving crash.

Tonya Couch has been free pending trial on charges of hindering apprehension of a felon and money laundering. She and her son Ethan fled to Mexico in 2015 after video surfaced apparently showing him at a party with alcohol - a probation violation.

Now, prosecutors allege that Tonya Couch possessed or consumed alcoholic beverages in violation of her bond.

She tends bar in suburban Fort Worth.

At trial, a psychologist blamed "affluenza" - acting irresponsibly due to wealth - for Ethan Couch's actions. He's serving two years in jail as a condition of his 10 years' probation.

Ethan must serve nearly two years in jail, a judge ordered in April of 2016 in adult court.

A juvenile court judge originally sentenced Ethan only to probation, angering the families of his victims and prosecutors who had pushed for detention time.

Further sparking outrage was the contention of a defense psychologist, Dr. Dick Miller, that Couch had been coddled into a dangerous sense of irresponsibility by his wealthy parents. Miller used the term "affluenza," which has stuck with the case ever since.

Ethan and Tonya were apprehended in a Mexican resort city in December of 2015 and sent back to the United States. Ethan has been in custody since.

Ethan lost control of his family's pickup truck after he and his friends had played beer pong and drank beer that some of them had stolen from a Wal-Mart. He veered into a crowd of people helping the driver of a disabled vehicle on the side of the road. Authorities later estimated that he was going 70 mph in a 40 mph zone.

The crash fatally injured the stranded motorist, a youth minister who stopped to help her and a mother and daughter who came out of their nearby home.

Ethan was found to have had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit for adult drivers.

It was not Ethan's first run-in with the law. At 15, Ethan was given two citations after a police officer found him behind the wheel of a pickup truck next to a half-naked girl, with an open vodka bottle on the backseat floor.

"I spoke with him at some length about the various consequences of his driving and drinking," a police officer wrote in a report, "such as effects on (his) driver's license and his path in life, especially DWI and even killing someone in a DWI."

Ethan's father, Fred, ran a roofing and construction company and has faced lawsuits over a $100,000 debt and allegations of sexual harassment.

Miller, the psychologist who suggested Couch had "affluenza," blamed Couch's parents at his sentencing for having "taught him a system that's 180 degrees from rational. If you hurt someone, say you're sorry. In that family, if you hurt someone, send some money."

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Related Topics:
newsu.s. & worlddui crashaffluenzaFort Worth
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