Judge up­holds ‘af­fluenza’ mom’s bond but is­sues warn­ing

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Nation / World - By Ryan Os­borne

FORT WORTH, Texas — State Dis­trict Judge Wayne Sal­vant de­clined Thurs­day to re­voke Tonya Couch’s bond af­ter pros­e­cu­tors al­leged she vi­o­lated her bond con­di­tions by pos­sess­ing or con­sum­ing al­co­hol and pos­sess­ing a firearm.

Sal­vant made the rul­ing at a bond hear­ing in which the as­sis­tant man­ager of the Ea­gle’s Nest bar in far north Fort Worth tes­ti­fied that Couch sipped beer there on May 20. Sal­vant in­di­cated he didn’t be­lieve that was enough to re­voke bond.

He had the same opin­ion about tes­ti­mony that she was car­ry­ing a ri­fle at a gun show last week­end. But Sal­vant warned her “to use com­mon sense.”

“I think some­times you use bad judg­ment,” Sal­vant told Couch. “Peo­ple are watch­ing you con­stantly . ... As you are aware, the eyes of Texas are look­ing upon you.”

Couch, the mother of “af­fluenza teen” Ethan Couch, is ac­cused of with­draw­ing $30,000 from a bank ac­count and flee­ing with her son to Mex­ico af­ter he skipped a pro­ba­tion ap­point­ment in 2015. They were ar­rested a few weeks later in a Mex­i­can re­sort town and brought back to Texas.

She is charged with money laun­der­ing and hin­der­ing the ap­pre­hen­sion of a felon and has been free on bond since Jan­uary 2016.

Ethan Couch, 20, killed four peo­ple in a drunken-driv­ing wreck in south­ern Tar­rant County in 2013. He re­ceived 10 years of pro­ba­tion in the case and is serv­ing time in jail as a con­di­tion of his pro­ba­tion.

He first re­ceived na­tional at­ten­tion three years ago af­ter a wit­ness at his trial said he suf­fered from “af­fluenza,” mean­ing that he couldn’t tell right from wrong be­cause of his af­flu­ent up­bring­ing.

At Tonya Couch’s hear­ing Thurs­day, pros­e­cu­tor Tif­fany Burks asked Sal­vant to take Couch’s bond con­di­tions “se­ri­ously” and send her to jail un­til her trial, sched­uled for Oct. 2.

“The court has bond con­di­tions in place for a rea­son,” Burks told Sal­vant.

Sal­vant said there was “no clear ev­i­dence” that Couch drank al­co­hol. The pros­e­cu­tors’ al­le­ga­tion was based on tes­ti­mony from Alys Dill, the as­sis­tant man­ager at the Ea­gle’s Nest, a sports bar and grill near Ea­gle Moun­tain Lake.

RODGER MALLISON/FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM

Tonya Couch leaves a hear­ing be­fore Judge Wayne Sal­vant in Crim­i­nal Dis­trict Court No. 2, who de­cided not to re­voke her bail over her al­leged bond vi­o­la­tions on Thurs­day in Fort Worth, Texas.

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