Tonya Couch, mother of “affluenza teen” Ethan Couch, was released from the Tarrant County Jail today, but she faces strict conditions that if violated, could land her back behind bars.
CNN reports that Couch’s release comes only a day after her bond was reduced by by Tarrant County Judge Wayne F. Salvant from $1 million to $75,000. The bail reduction came after Couch’s 29-year-old son Steven McWilliams, Ethan Couch’s half-brother, revealed during a court hearing that his mother is broke and that her bank account is “negative 99 billion.” McWilliams also revealed that Tonya’s ex husband Fred Couch was broke himself, and left her no money.
Tonya Couch, mother of "affluenza" teen, has posted bail, Tarrant County Sheriff says. https://t.co/NpHKw4w3C1— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) January 12, 2016
Yet, despite McWilliams’ claims, Tonya Couch came up with the lowered bail amount of $75,000 and was released on Tuesday.
Couch must adhere to strict stipulations while on bail, including regular drug testing and weekly probation meetings. She’s also banned from accessing weapons and must wear an ankle monitor at all times, due to her “flight risk” status. Other conditions set forth prior to her release include the following.
- Avoiding bad influences
- Remaining in Tarrant County and living with her son, McWilliams
- Abstaining from drugs and alcohol
- Paying a monthly $60 fee for supervision
- 24-hour home confinement, aside from attorney and doctor visits (they must visit her at her residence)
During her court arraignment last Friday, Judge Salvant informed Couch that she was being held on a felony charge of hindering the apprehension of a felon, which stems from her fleeing to Mexico in December with her son Ethan, who missed his scheduled probation meeting. Ethan was given 10 years probation after he killed four people and severely injured several others during a 2013 drunk driving accident in the Forth Worth area.
On Friday, Tarrant County Magistrate Judge Matt King, suspecting that Tonya Couch may suffer from some sort of mental incapacity, ordered her to undergo a undergo a mental exam. According to court documents, there was enough cause to speculate that Couch may have “a mental illness or is a person with a mental retardation.”
The mental evaluation, which must be completed within 30 days from Couch’s release, will determine if she’s mentally capable of standing trial for her charge. Couch’s attorney, Stephanie Patten, stated that her client will plead not guilty.
WFAA reports that as Couch stepped foot out of the courtroom on Tuesday, a mob of news reporters and photographers awaited her. It marked the first chance that reporters had to question the infamous mom, but she walked in silence with her head down as questions were shot left and right at her.
As she made her way two blocks over to the Community Supervision Center while being escorted by a deputy, reporters and photographers followed her and waited outside for around two hours while she learned about the stipulations of her release. When she walked out of the center, she quickly got into the passenger side a dark-colored sedan without giving any commentary.
Meanwhile, Ethan Couch remains in Mexico in a detention center after fighting extradition back to the U.S. Last week, a Mexican official stated that the 18-year old shares a room with three or four other inmates, and has access to a television via the detention center’s common room. He also gets three meals per day and unlimited access to medical care. He can also make unlimited phone calls.
So far, Tonya Couch doesn’t have court date set for her third-degree felony charge. If found guilty, she may face up to 10 years in prison and substantial fines.
[Photo Courtesy of the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office]