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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – There are developments in the case against the mother of “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch. After being indicted for helping her son jump bail and escape to Mexico, Tonya Couch was in a Fort Worth courtroom this morning.
Today’s “consultation docket” hearing – which is a preliminary hearing involving prosecutors and defense attorneys – was over in just a few minutes. It was Tonya Couch’s first appearance in court since being indicted last month.
Couch is facing charges for hindering apprehension and money laundering. In court papers, Couch is accused of withdrawing $30,000 before leaving the country with her son in December. The indictment says the money was intended to further criminal activity, namely keeping Ethan from being arrested. As it stands, the 49-year-old woman is free on bond.
Tonya Couch and her son were found in Mexico after investigators started looking into possible parole violations from Ethan’s deadly drunk driving crash.
Tonya Couch did not speak to the media but stood by while her attorney, Don Carter, did. Carter said his client’s bond conditions have been eased –slightly. “She doesn’t have quite the curfew that she had – so she can look for a job,” he said.
Carter didn’t say what kind of work Couch is looking for, but said that with all of the attention to her case it will be hard for her to resume a normal life. Not so normal considering that she is also still required to wear a GPS ankle monitor.
“She can’t go where she wants to go, when she wants to go,” Carter said. “She has to stay at home unless she’s looking for a job or she’s coming to her lawyer’s office, she’s reporting to court, or the probation department.”
Ethan Couch was 16-years-old when he drove drunk, with a vehicle full of other young people, and slammed into a disabled SUV parked on the side of the road. The crash killed four people. After being convicted of Intoxication Manslaughter and Intoxication Assault Causing Serious Bodily Injury, Ethan was sentenced to therapy and 10 years probation.
The teenager’s compliance with that probation came into question after a video posted to Twitter allegedly showing Ethan at a party with several people playing beer pong. The six-second video shows several young people in a room, with red cups and beer cans stacked on a table. It ends when a young man dives onto the table, and it collapses. A person, reported to be Ethan Couch, can be seen clapping during the dive.
The case sparked national outrage when Ethan’s lawyers claimed the teen suffered from “affluenza” – a condition that left him with an irresponsible attitude because his rich parents never set limits for him.
The next court date for Tonya Couch has not been set.
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