Tonya Couch, the mother of “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch, was released from the Tarrant County Jail Tuesday morning after posting a reduced bond of $75,000. Originally, that bond was $1,000,000. Judge Wayne Salvant reduced her $1 million bond to $75,000.
— Monica Hernandez (@MHernandezWFAA) January 12, 2016
Couch’s attorneys argued on Monday that Couch was not in a position to afford the $1 million bond for the third degree felony charge of hindering the apprehension of her felon son, Ethan.
Her older son, Steven McWilliams, Ethan’s half-brother, testified on Monday that Couch had “-$99 billion” in her bank account in what appeared to be an attempt to get his mother’s bond lowered.
Watch “affluenza mom” Tonya Couch’s eldest son testify that his mother can’t post a 1 million dollar bond. https://t.co/OWjhEtzPqI
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 11, 2016
The prosecuting attorney said he opposed the bond reduction because Couch showed a willingness “to expend great resources” to flee the reach of the Tarrant County Court, referring to details in the arrest warrant released Friday.
Dallas CBS affiliate KTVT 11 reported the affidavit revealed Couch withdrew $30,000 from a personal bank account weeks before authorities apprehended her and son Ethan in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in late December. The court document also stated that Couch, 48, told her estranged husband and Ethan’s father, Fred Couch, he would never see either of them again.
Authorities believe mother and son fled Texas as prosecutors investigated whether Ethan Couch had violated his probation. A video surfaced online that showed someone who resembled him at a party where people appeared to drink alcohol.
However, Judge Salvant said, “One of the things I am concerned about is that you cannot set a bail just to keep someone in jail.” He acknowledged the “outrage in the community” over the “affluenza” teen and his mother but added “as a judge I have to look at the law.”
Salvant said $75,000 was a bond amount he felt was appropriate in this case and not “oppressive.” He said that if Couch makes bail, conditions he discussed at Friday’s arraignment would be enforced. Among them were weekly visits with county probation officials, no consumption of alcoholic beverages, and urinalysis testing. Couch will be required to wear a GPS ankle bracelet and turn over her passport, although, Couch told Salvant Friday she did not have it. It is not yet clear where it is, or if Mexican or California authorities took it during the extradition process back to Texas.
The judge ordered Couch to stay “with her son” McWilliams, who offered to pay some of her legal fees. Couch would only be allowed to leave home for doctor or attorney appointments.
Couch’s attorney, Stephanie Patten, filed the motion to reduce her bond from $1 million to $15,00o last Thursday, calling the six-figure amount “excessive” for the charge. She told reporters that a bond of $25,000 or under would be fair.
Couch wore a yellow jail jumpsuit when appearing before the judge on Friday. Monday, she dressed in street clothes. Meanwhile, her son Ethan remains detained in Mexico, fighting extradition.
Also Monday, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) launched #FightAffluenza, an online petition for which they seek 30,000 signatures demanding that the “affluenza” teen’s case be moved from juvenile to adult court by January 19 when a case transfer hearing is scheduled.
— MADD (@MADDOnline) January 11, 2016
MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church said in a press release: “Couch is not a child. His actions are not that of a child. Four people were killed and several injured, and Couch continues to show no remorse and blatant disregard for the law.”
Ethan Couch was 16-years-old when he killed four people and wounded others in a June 2013 drunk-driving wreck near Fort Worth. His defense attorneys claimed he was the victim of “affluenza,” an inability to distinguish right from wrong based on his affluent upbringing. Instead of jail time, a lenient judge, District Judge Jean Boyd, gave Couch a 10 year probation sentence. Boyd retired from the bench in December, 2014.
This article has been updated with information regarding Couch’s release on bond.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.