Tonya Couch is back in Texas and in the Tarrant County Jail.
Couch, who waived extradition proceedings in a Los Angeles County court, flew into Dallas/Fort Worth Airport on an American Airlines flight and was whisked away in a caravan of Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department vehicles.
Wearing handcuffs, partially hidden by a blue jacket, and ankle cuffs, Couch was booked into the Lon Evans Corrections Center in downtown Fort Worth on Thursday afternoon. She refused interviews before she was booked, a spokesman for Sheriff Dee Anderson said.
On Thursday, Couch’s lawyer filed a habeas corpus petition in which she is “seeking judicial relief from illegal restraint on her liberty and for protection from unreasonable bail.”
Her bail was set at $1 million.
The amount is “excessive” under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Texas Constitution and Texas laws that deal with excessive bail, the petition states.
Couch is scheduled for an initial appearance before state District Judge Wayne Salvant on Friday morning. A bail hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Monday.
Anderson said he spoke with a subdued Couch at the airport.
“She was very quiet, very reserved, very respectful and appreciative,” Anderson said at a news conference.
Couch is accused of helping her son, Ethan Couch, flee to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, after he missed a juvenile probation appointment, and of hindering his apprehension, a third-degree felony. The two were detained by Mexican authorities on Dec. 28.
That day, an Arlington police sergeant assigned to the U.S. Marshals North Texas Fugitive Task Force wrote an arrest warrant naming Tonya Couch, according to the habeas corpus petition.
The case against her was filed with the Tarrant County district attorney’s office three days later.
Tonya Couch’s return to Tarrant County was quite the media event, and was livestreamed by at least one TV station.
It is not clear when Ethan Couch will return. He remains in a detention center in Mexico City after taking legal action to delay his deportation to the United States.
Anderson said he is “totally unfamiliar” with the Mexican judicial system.
“If justice had been served the first time, we wouldn’t have had this issue,” Anderson said. “Ethan Couch should have been locked up.”
Background of case
With seven passengers in his Ford F-350 pickup, Ethan Couch, who was 16 at the time, was driving drunk and speeding down Burleson-Retta Road on June 15, 2013, when he crashed into a group of people trying to help a stranded motorist.
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 passerby who had also stopped to help.
Nine people were injured, including passengers in Couch’s pickup.
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 Couch 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 Ethan Couch to 10 years’ probation and to intensive therapy.
Because he was portrayed during his trial as an immature teen from a wealthy but dysfunctional 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.
Staff writer Monica S. Nagy contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.