Texas indicts mom of ‘affluenza’ teen

Posted at 4:16 PM, May 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-26 18:16:06-04

By Steve Visser

(CNN) — The mother of the teenager who claimed his affluent upbringing made him less culpable for killing four people while driving drunk has been indicted by a Texas grand jury.

Tonya Couch faces charges of hindering apprehension of a felon and money laundering, said Samantha Jordan, spokeswoman for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office. The charges arise from a trip Couch and her son, Ethan Couch, took to Mexico while he was serving 10 years on probation for intoxication manslaughter.

More information was not available because the court has imposed a gag order.

Authorities said Ethan Couch and his mother fled to Mexico to avoid a court hearing to determine if he had violated his probation by attending a party where alcohol was served.

Mexican authorities found them at a Pacific resort town. In January, Ethan Couch was returned to Tarrant County, where he has remained in jail.

The indictment is the newest chapter in the complex case that grabbed national attention after a psychologist testified that when Couch drove drunk at age 16 he was a victim of “affluenza,” a product of wealthy parents who never set limits for him, which made him unable to understand the potential consequences of his actions.

A juvenile court judge sentenced him to probation despite prosecutors asking for a sentence of 20 years.

The court ordered him to stay away from drugs and alcohol, but last December a video emerged in which Couch was seen, allegedly at a party where alcohol was served.

After he turned 19 in April, a judge sentenced him to 720 days in jail as a requirement of his initial sentence, which was set to be revisited after he left the supervision of the juvenile court.

Authorities said Couch was drunk in June 2013 when the pickup he was driving plowed into four pedestrians on a road in Burleson, Texas. Couch’s vehicle also struck a parked car, which then slid into another vehicle headed in the opposite direction.

Two people riding in the bed of the teen’s pickup were tossed in the crash and severely injured. At the time, police said one was no longer able to move or talk because of a brain injury.

CNN’s Jason Hanna contributed to this report.