Tonya Couch, mother of affluenza-afflicted drunk driving killer Ethan Couch, was given reduced bail Monday afternoon. After an ill-fated sojourn to Mexico with her son Ethan following his skipping a probation appointment, Tonya Couch was accused of helping him flee. Her bail was set at $1 million after she was returned from Mexico to the United States. Monday, following Couch's return to Tarrant County from her Los Angeles landing spot late last week, Judge Wayne Salvant reduced Couch's bail amount to $75,000.
"You can't set a bail just to keep somebody in jail," Salvant said. "We're talking about a third-degree felony here, not capital murder."
Tonya Couch's lawyers argued that she was indigent. That, despite the still unaccounted for $30,000 she withdrew from the bank before heading to Puerto Vallarta, she has no access to cash. Her estranged husband and Ethan's father, Fred Couch, won't help her, Tonya Couch's son Steven McWilliams said. Her bank account balance shows as "negative $99 billion," McWilliams says, because it's been frozen. The infamous Harley Davidson Ford F-150 in which the two Couches went to Mexico isn't Tonya's her attorney's said — it belongs to Fred Couch's sheet metal company. Her attorneys told the judge they had not been paid by Couch.
Tarrant County prosecutors drew a line between the Couches' apparent disrespect for the conditions of Ethan's probation — he got 10 years' worth for killing four people — and the potential that Tonya Couch would skip bail, and Salvant expressed concern that Couch's passport, which her attorneys have said was lost during her stint in California, was missing.
In consideration of those concerns, Tonya Couch's bail conditions will be onerous. She'll have to report to Tarrant County once a week, undergo drug testing, stay away from bars and clubs, be monitored by GPS and live with McWilliams. She, along with all the attorneys in the case, was also ordered to stay off social media and refrain from talking to the media about the case.
Ethan Couch remains in Mexico, fighting deportation to the United States. A hearing to transfer his probation from juvenile to adult court is set for January 19.