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Affidavit: Mom of ‘affluenza’ teen withdrew $30,000 from account before going to Mexico

  • Tonya Couch attends an extradition hearing at the Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool)

FORT WORTH, Texas » Tonya Couch withdrew $30,000 from a bank account and called her husband in and told him that they would never see their son again, according to an arrest warrant obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram today.

The affidavit details the days in early December when Ethan Couch is accused of violating his probation.

Though he is not identified in the affidavit, it is clear that Ethan Couch’s name has been redacted.

The affidavit says the teen, who was 16 when he was placed on probation for driving drunk and killing four people, was scared that he had violated his probation for being caught on a video at a party where alcohol was being served.

Tonya Couch was aware that Ethan Couch was trying to devise a plan to lie about the video, the affidavit says.

Tonya Couch made her first appearance before a Tarrant County judge on Friday and will have to wear an ankle tracking monitor if she makes bail, a judge warned the mother.

During a short hearing in state District Judge Wayne Salvant’s court, Couch, wearing a yellow jail jumpsuit, heard the charge against her — hindering apprehension, a third-degree felony.

Salvant ordered Couch to surrender her passport; Couch said she does not have one.

Couch’s bail remains $1 million. A bail reduction hearing is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

Ethan Couch, now 18, remained in a Mexican detention center Friday. The pair drove to Mexico in late December after a video posted on social media appeared to show him at a beer pong party. That would be a violation of his juvenile probation in the drunken driving wreck in 2013 that killed four people and injured nine.

Salvant said he would attach “a lot of restrictions” to Tonya Couch’s bail, including wearing a GPS-type device on her ankle.

Asked by Salvant if she was competent, Couch smiled and said, “I think so.”

She also told Salvant that she and Ethan’s father, Fred Couch, are still married.

Previous reports indicated that the couple had divorced in Johnson County in 2006 and remarried in 2011. Fred Couch filed for the current divorce in August, accusing Tonya Couch of “cruel treatment” toward him, but the divorce has not become final, according to court records.

Tonya Couch was housed by herself in a cell Thursday night in the maximum-security Lon Evans Corrections Center, Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said.

Anderson said Couch, 48, told him that she couldn’t sleep well because the jail lights were too bright and other inmates were watching her.

“She expressed a slight bit of displeasure about her accommodations,” Anderson said. “I explained to her that this is a jail, not a resort.”

She was returned to Tarrant County on Thursday after being detained in a Los Angeles jail where she was taken after being deported from Mexico.

Her attorney, Stephanie Patten, filed documents Thursday asking the court to reduce Couch’s bail to $15,000 cash or surety. The defense attorney pointed out that a magistrate initially set bail at $10,000 on the arrest warrant.

The recommended bond amount on a third-degree felony is $2,500, according to the Tarrant County Bond Schedule.

Patten missed Friday’s hearing because she was stuck in traffic.

In a news release sent out Friday afternoon, Patten and co-counsel Stephen Gordon accused Anderson, who is running for re-election, of “political posturing.”

The news release sarcastically thanked Anderson “for taking time out of his busy day … to personally escort a 5’11”, 110 pound handcuffed and leg shackled female who was guarded by at 2 armed deputies. … He was also kind enough to make sure she was booked into the “Super Max” unit of the jail, normally reserved for those accused of extremely violent or capital crimes … “

“We would ask that Ms. Couch is back in Tarrant County, that the process now begin in an orderly and lawful way, as it has been for many years in this County.”

Ethan Couch remains in a detention center in Mexico City after taking legal action to delay his deportation to the United States.

He was 16 and driving drunk on June 15, 2013, when he crashed his pickup into people trying to help a stranded motorist along a road in southern Tarrant County.

Killed were Breanna Mitchell, 24, of Lillian, whose car had broken down; Hollie Boyles, 52, and Shelby Boyles, 21, who lived nearby and had come outside to help Mitchell; and Burleson youth minister Brian Jennings, 41, a passer-by who had also stopped to help.

Nine people were injured, including passengers in Couch’s pickup.

Ethan Couch, who had a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit, also had traces of Valium in his system.

Tarrant County prosecutors asked for the teen to be sentenced to 20 years in a state lockup, but defense attorneys argued that he would be better served in a rehabilitation facility.

State District Judge Jean Boyd, who has since retired, sentenced Couch to 10 years’ probation and to intensive therapy.

Because he was portrayed during his trial as an immature teen from a wealthy family — with a passing reference by a witness to his being a victim of “affluenza” — Ethan Couch’s sentencing became a national news story.

He was back in the news late last year after a short video posted on Twitter on Dec. 2, 2015, appeared to show him playing beer pong at a party, which would be a violation of his probation.

A week later he missed an appointment with a probation officer, which is a violation of his probation.

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©2016 Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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