One of DFW's longest-running true-crime soap operas took another turn Friday as Tarrant County authorities arrested Tonya Couch, the mother of "affluenza" drunk driver Ethan Couch, for yet another alleged bail violation.
Couch is accused of failing a urinalysis, violating the portion of her bail agreement that requires that she not use drugs or alcohol while awaiting trial, just as she was in both March and June 2018. Court documents from Monday's incident don't say what substance Couch is accused of taking.
Couch is awaiting trial for charges related to her son's flight to Mexico in 2015. A Tarrant County judge sentenced Ethan Couch to 10 years' probation for killing four people in 2013 drunk-driving incident. During his trial, Ethan Couch's defense famously claimed that the then 16-year-old suffered from "affluenza," a condition, commonly known as "being spoiled," brought on by his rich parents' failure to set boundaries for his behavior.
Tonya and Ethan Couch headed to Mexico after a video surfaced on Twitter showing the younger Couch playing beer pong in late 2015, apparently causing him and his mother to fear that his probation would be revoked. Mother and son were eventually captured in Puerto Vallarta after police tracked a cellphone the two had used to order pizza from a local Domino's.
After their return to Tarrant County, Ethan Couch received a 720-day jail sentence as a condition of transferring to the adult probation system. Prosecutors charged Tonya Couch with money-laundering and helping her son flee.
Ethan Couch left jail earlier this year after completing his jail term without incident. His mother has not kept as low a profile.
In June 2017, she narrowly avoided having her bail revoked after witnesses saw her taking a sip of beer at a sports bar in Fort Worth and handling a firearm at a gun show. At the time, Tarrant County District Judge Wayne Salvant warned her that he wouldn't tolerate any further violations of bail conditions.
"The eyes of Texas are upon you," he said.
Salvant revoked Tonya Couch's bail after both the March and June 2018 positive tests, eventually releasing her after she agreed to tougher bail conditions, including not using any over-the-counter medication or vitamins.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.