FORT WORTH, Texas – Before Tonya Couch and her son fled to Mexico, she withdrew $30,000 from her account and told her husband he would not be seeing them again, an arrest affidavit stated.
Authorities accuse Couch of helping her son, Ethan, the so-called affluenza teen, flee the country to avoid a probation hearing that may have led to jail time for him.
Tonya Couch faces a charge of hindering the apprehension of a felon, and was arraigned Friday in Fort Worth. She did not enter a formal plea.
She arrived in Texas on Thursday, two days after a Los Angeles judge approved her extradition and more than a week after Mexican authorities detained her with her son in a Pacific resort town.
Couch will plead not guilty, said Stephanie Patton, her attorney.
Before he went to Mexico, Ethan Couch was on probation for killing four people in a 2013 drunken driving accident when he was 16.
At the time, many were outraged that a judge sentenced him to probation instead of jail time, slamming his now-notorious “affluenza” defense. During the trial, his lawyers suggested he was too rich and spoiled to understand the consequences of his actions.
An affidavit released Friday gave more details about his probation and what set off a series of events that ended with his escape to Mexico.
It said that a video of Ethan Couch surfaced on December 2, and “scared” the teen because it allegedly showed him at a party where alcohol was consumed.
He had been ordered to stay away from drugs and alcohol for the duration of his probation.
A day after the video surfaced, the affidavit said, a probation officer attempted to reach Ethan Couch but he did not respond. That’s the same day his mother withdrew the money and called a man known as Fred Couch to tell him he would never see them again, the affidavit said. Texas media have identified the man as her husband.
It also stated that the phones belonging to the mother and son “we no longer active.”
In mid-December, a warrant was issued for Couch, who’s now 18, to be taken into custody after his probation officer couldn’t reach him.
He and his mother were arrested on December 28 in a residence near Puerto Vallarta, where Tonya Couch was working on a computer.
A judge set a bond hearing for her on Monday morning. At that time, the judge will consider reducing the bond amount, which was set at $1 million.
If she makes bond, Couch will face a series of restrictions, including wearing an ankle monitor.
Ethan Couch is still in Mexico; when he returns to the United States depends in large part on whether he decides to contest his deportation. Last week, a Mexican judge granted the teen a temporary stay halting deportation proceedings.