'Affluenza' mom makes bail, but not off hook for son's brazen flight

Tonya Couch will be monitored electronically, subject to drug testing, and required to report to authorities weekly.

Brandon Wade/AP
Tonya Couch (c.), the mother of a Texas teen who used an 'affluenza' defense in a drunken wreck, leaves Tarrant County Jail, Tuesday, in Fort Worth, Texas. She is to be fitted with a GPS monitor before release. A judge decreased Couch's bond Monday from $1 million to $75,000. Couch is charged with hindering the apprehension of a felon after she and her son, Ethan Couch, were caught in a Mexican resort city.

The mother of a Texas teenager, now infamous for invoking the "affluenza" defense after killing four people while driving drunk, was released from police custody on Tuesday after posting bail.

Tonya Couch was released from Tarrant County Jail in Fort Worth, Texas, after her defense lawyer argued that the initial $1 million that the court had set was too high for a third-degree felony. Ms. Couch was arrested while trying to help her son, Ethan Couch, escape to Mexico to avoid possible jail time. She has been charged with hindering the apprehension of a felon and could face 10 years in jail if found guilty.

The conditions for her release, set by Judge Wayne F. Salvant, include electronic monitoring, drug testing, and reporting weekly to authorities.

The mother and son were arrested in Puerto Vallarta in December, but Mr. Couch remains at the immigration detention facility in Mexico fighting deportation back to the United States.

Couch and her son fled to Mexico after a video surfaced on social media that showed the teenager playing drinking games at a party, likely in violation of his probation.

In 2013 Ethan Couch, then 16, drove with some of his friends, while drunk, and caused an accident that left four pedestrians dead and one of his friends paralyzed. The teen was sentenced to probation after his defense argued that the teenager’s behavior was attributed to the family’s wealth, and that he was too privileged to tell right from wrong.

The video sparked a wide outrage on social media. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) started a petition demanding that Ethan Couch’s case be moved from juvenile to adult court. The petition had garnered 32,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.

“The nation has watched with anger and disdain as Couch continues to show blatant disregard for the law. The families impacted will never have their loved ones back. Couch must be treated like the adult he is, “ the petition reads.

This report includes material from or Reuters.

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