Tonya Couch, mother of “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch, returned to North Texas Thursday, escorted by local law enforcement who booked her into jail. She is expected to be arraigned on Friday.
Couch, 48, arrived at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport at around 1:30 p.m. (CST) with Tarrant County officials who accompanied her from Los Angeles, where she was held in a federal prison after Mexican authorities extradited her back to the United States. On Tuesday, she agreed to leave California and return to Texas. At the time, her attorneys said Couch looked forward to returning to Texas as quickly as possible.
A procession of police vehicles flanked the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office minivan carrying Couch on the short trip to Fort Worth.
— NBC DFW (@NBCDFW) January 7, 2016
Authorities booked Couch into the Tarrant County Jail where they already charged her with hindering the apprehension of her fugitive son. She is held on $1 million bond, although late Thursday, one of Couch’s attorneys, Stephanie Patten, filed a motion to have the $1 million bond reduced to $15,000, saying the bail amount is “unreasonable” because it is six times the recommended bail amount for a third-degree felony called for in the Tarrant County Bond Schedule, the Dallas Morning News reported, adding that the motion stated Couch “personally promises to appear at all court appearances hereon and to comply” with all conditions of her bail.
Previously, Breitbart Texas reported that her legal team released a statement in which they wrote Couch broke no laws in Texas. The statement read:
“While the public may not like what she did, may not agree with what she did, or may have strong feelings against what she did, make no mistake — Tonya did not violate any law of the State of Texas and she is eager to have her day in court.”
Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson told reporters Thursday that Tonya Couch will be arraigned Friday morning.
Anderson escorted Couch on the ride from DFW Airport to the Tarrant County jail and called her booking “routine,” describing her as “quiet, reserved and respectful,” WFAA 8 (ABC) reported. He said the only unusual part of the booking process was that Couch was given a sack lunch in a holding cell because she had not eaten in nearly 24 hours.
Tarrant County authorities believe that Couch aided her son in fleeing to Mexico. Prosecutors were investigating whether Ethan Couch violated his probation after a social media video surfaced in early December. It showed a teen party allegedly serving alcoholic beverages and someone who looked like Couch. Among his probation violations are drinking alcohol, driving, or doing drugs. The international manhunt for the Couches began after Ethan did not show up for his regularly scheduled probation appointment last month.
Breitbart Texas reported that the 18-year-old is serving a 10 year probation sentence after killing four people and wounding others in a June 2013 drunk-driving wreck near Fort Worth. His defense attorneys claimed that the teen was the victim of “affluenza,” an inability to distinguish right from wrong based on his affluent upbringing. Instead of jail time, a lenient judge tried then 16-year-old Ethan as a juvenile resulting in the probationary sentence.
Ethan Couch remains detained in Mexico City. Breitbart Texas reported that high-profile Mexican lawyer Fernando Benítez is fighting the teen’s extradition back to the states. However, confident that Ethan will be returned to Tarrant County, Anderson told reporters: “We’re patient, we’ll wait…”
— Brian Curtis (@BrianCurtisNBC5) January 7, 2016
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.