FORT WORTH, Texas (Reuters) - The mother of a Texas teenager, derided for his “affluenza” defense for killing four people while driving drunk, posted bond on Monday and is set to be released from a county jail on Tuesday, the Tarrant County sheriff said.
Tonya Couch, 48, had her bail reduced on Monday to $75,000 from $1 million after her lawyers argued the original amount was excessively high for a person charged with a third degree felony. Couch faces up to 10 years in prison for helping her son escape to Mexico, likely in violation of the probation deal.
Tonya Couch needs to be placed under electronic monitoring as a condition of her release, Sheriff Dee Anderson said.
A psychiatrist testifying on behalf of Ethan Couch, then 16, at his 2013 trial in juvenile court, contended his family’s wealth had left him so spoiled that it impaired his judgment to tell right from wrong.
The affluenza diagnosis, which is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, was widely ridiculed.
On Monday, Judge Wayne Salvant imposed conditions on a release on bond that included the electronic monitor, drug testing and reporting weekly to authorities.
In arguing that the bail should remain at $1 million, Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Rousseau said, “She has shown she is willing to violate his probation and is willing to do so in a big way.”
Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson told reporters earlier in the day there was a possibility she could run again.
“Hopefully, the judge’s restrictions will prevent that,” he said.
Ethan Couch is in an immigration detention facility in Mexico and fighting deportation back to the United States.
Stephanie Patten, an attorney for the mother, said her bank account had been frozen and she could not access enough money to pay the bond.
Tonya Couch and her son left Texas after a video surfaced on social media in early December showing Ethan at an alcohol-fueled party, in likely violation of his probation deal.
A day after the video was seen on the Internet, she withdrew $30,000 from the bank and informed her estranged husband, who owns a metal works business, that he would never see his son again, an arrest affidavit said.
Mother and son drove in a pickup truck to Puerto Vallarta, where they were caught by Mexican authorities after a manhunt lasting more than two weeks.
Reporting by Marice Richter; Writing by David Bailey and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Sandra Maler and Muralikumar Anantharaman