A Texas judge brought down the bond for Tonya Couch, the mother of affluenza teen Ethan Couch, from $1 million to $75,000.
Tonya, who was arrested in Mexico on December 28 for hindering apprehension of a fugitive, was arraigned Friday and held on $1 million bond. Her son was being sought for violating the terms of his probation.
Tonya’s lawyers argued that because of her frozen bank account and pending divorce, it was difficult for her to afford a $1 million bond, adding that it was a high amount for someone charged with third-degree felony. Stephanie Patten, a lawyer representing Tonya, said, “In this county, people accused of the most violent offenses don’t get their bonds set at $1 million.”
According to ABC News, prosecutors said that Tonya had shown “willingness to flee the jurisdiction.” They added that, on the day she fled to Mexico with Ethan, she attempted to withdraw an amount of $60,000 but could only receive $30,000.
Judge Wayne Salvant said, “You can’t set a bail just to keep someone in jail. We’re talking about a third-degree felony. Let’s look at it the way it is.” She could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years if convicted.
At the 2013 trial of a drunken-driving incident where Ethan killed four people, a psychologist on behalf of the defense had testified that Ethan was suffering from “affluenza,” stemming from his irresponsible lifestyle because of his affluent upbringing; as a result of which his judgement was affected and he couldn’t tell right from wrong. While prosecutors argued for a lengthy prison time, Ethan was sentenced 10 years probation. Affluenza is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association.
Judge Salvant slashed Tonya’s bond to $75,000 Monday. Certain conditions were imposed on her release on bond – including drug testing, reporting to authorities weekly and being placed on an electronic monitor.
Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Rousseau, speaking about keeping the bail at $1 million, said, “She has shown she is willing to violate his probation and is willing to do so in a big way,” as reported by Yahoo News.
Ethan, currently in Mexico pending deportation proceedings, was sentenced to 10 years in probation after he killed four people and injured several others in a drunken-driving incident. Ethan was 16 at the time.