The mother of the “affluenza” teen, Ethan Couch, arrived at Los Angeles International Airport after being deported from Mexico Wednesday evening, WFAA-TV reports.
Tonya Couch, who is accused of helping her son flee the U.S. to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, was captured with the 18-year-old. Ethan Couch is two years into a 10-year probation term for a drunken-driving crash that killed four people.
Tonya Couch was taken in handcuffs through the terminal and into an unmarked vehicle early Thursday morning, escorted by the U.S. Marshals Service, the report notes.
It was unclear why Tonya Couch was brought into Los Angeles instead of Texas, where she and her son live and where he is on probation. Officials would not reveal how long she might remain in California, citing security concerns.
Her son, however, remains in Mexico after his attorneys filed paperwork hoping to fight his extradition to the United Sates, according to Tarrant County, Texas’ sheriff and district attorney.
Ethan Couch was reportedly granted a three-day court injunction; however, since no similar paperwork was filed for Tonya Couch, she was deported as soon as officials could secure a sufficient number of tickets to a U.S. destination, the news station notes.
Because of the holidays, Ethan Couch is likely to be able to stay in Mexico beyond the next three days. In addition, a Mexican judge’s ruling could prompt a weekslong legal process if the judge decides that the 18-year-old is able to challenge his deportation based on arguments that deporting him would violate his rights, WFAA-TV reports.
Couch was declared officially missing Dec. 10 when he did not appear at a mandatory meeting with his probation officer. It is now believed that the 18-year-old fled the country in late November with his mom, after video surfaced of him at a party where teens were playing beer pong. Drinking would be in direct violation of his probation.
However, now Ethan Couch isn’t the only one in trouble. His mom could face two to 10 years in prison for hindering prosecution.
A Fort Worth, Texas, attorney representing the mother noted that the fear of prison for the teen outweighed the fear of living on the run.
“What would you do if you’re a parent who has a son who is the most hated boy in America? What would you do to protect him?” Stephanie Patten told the news station, arguing that the teen would be targeted in prison.
“From what I’ve seen, she is not an evil person,” Patten added regarding Tonya Couch.
The attorney did acknowledge the case, as well as the lives lost and families destroyed by Ethan Couch’s fatal crash.
Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson, however, saw the act as “one more way of delaying justice.”
“[The families of the victims] have just spent another Christmas without their loved ones,” he said. “Tough time of year anyway. Just to have this is an added slap in the face.”
Read more at USA Today.