Judge Upholds ‘Affluenza’ Mom’s Bond after Alcohol, Weapon Allegations

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AP File Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Even though prosecutors attempted to revoke the bond of “affluenza” mom Tonya Couch, the presiding judge in the case said no jail.

Couch, the mother of “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch, was back in court Thursday morning to face presiding District Court Judge Wayne Salvant over prosecutors’ allegations she broke the conditions of her bond by drinking alcoholic beverages and was in possession of a gun.

After hearing testimony of witnesses for the state, Salvant ruled to uphold Couch’s bond, although he noted she exercises bad judgment and needs to use “common sense.”

One witness, Alys Dill, an assistant manager from the Eagles Nest bar in far north Fort Worth, testified he saw Couch sip a beer on May 20, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Couch’s defense team fired back that their client’s alcohol tests have all been negative.

Another witness, Johnson County Commissioner Jerry Stringer, testified he saw Couch at a gun show at the Will Rogers Memorial Center last weekend, according to WFAA. He said Couch held a rifle on her shoulder. Stringer added he alerted Fort Worth police officers.

Salvant told Couch he would not put her in jail over taking a sip of beer or attending a gun show but emphasized she needed to use common sense. “I think sometimes you use bad judgment,” Salvant told Couch. “As you are aware, the eyes of Texas are looking upon you.”

The state requested Salvant enact stricter bond terms including an alcohol monitor but Couch’s attorneys called such conditions “nearly impossible.” The judge tightened up the conditions of her bond so that Couch cannot consume or possess alcohol. She also must meet with a probation officer weekly.

Couch, 50, faces money laundering charges for allegedly withdrawing $30,000 from a personal bank account weeks before she and her son fled to Mexico in late 2015 after authorities suspected he violated his bond and missed a meeting with his probation officer. This triggered an international search that resulted in the pair’s extradition to Texas. Officials also charged the elder Couch with hindering the apprehension of her fugitive son.

She has been free on bond since January 2016 when Salvant lowered her bail from $1 million to $75,000. Originally, he placed her on house arrest requiring a GPS ankle monitor but later relaxed these terms to allow her to find a job to support herself while she awaits her October 2 trial date. Couch landed a short-lived job tending bar at a honky tonk saloon outside of Fort Worth. Reportedly, now she cleans out boats to make ends meet.

Ethan Couch first gained notoriety in 2013, when, at age 16, he drove drunk and killed four people in a Fort Worth area car wreck. His lawyers attributed such reckless behavior to “affluenza,” an inability to distinguish right from wrong because of a coddled, affluent upbringing. During the case’s high-profile trial, the prosecution sought 20 years in prison, but a lenient juvenile judge gave the teen a 10 year probation sentence. At age 19, Ethan’s case transferred to the adult court system where Salvant ordered him to spend 720 days behind bars to reflect 180 days for each of the four people killed in the 2013 accident. Now 20-years-old, Ethan continues to serve that sentence.

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.

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