Tonya Couch, the mother of Ethan Couch, was released from jail Tuesday morning after posting bond late Monday night.
Earlier Monday, a state district judge lowered her bail from $1 million to $75,000.
She refused to comment Tuesday as she was being escorted from jail.
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Late Monday, Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said he didn’t know who put up the bond, but that she wouldn’t be released until probation officers put an electronic tracking device on her sometime Tuesday morning.
Tonya Couch is accused of hindering law enforcement officers from apprehending her son, a third-degree felony.
“We’re not here to get her attention,” Judge Wayne Salvant said during Couch’s bail reduction hearing Monday morning, noting that the purpose of bail is not to punish but to ensure a defendant returns to court.
“I don’t think [the new amount] is oppressive. I think Mrs. Couch can make it.”
Salvant told Couch that she is required to live with her oldest son, Steven McWilliams, in Tarrant County; check in weekly with a Tarrant County probation officer; wear the monitor; and abstain from drugs and alcohol.
At the hearing before Salvant, Couch’s lawyer, Stephanie Patten, said her bank account is locked by a court order.
Most of Monday’s hearing centered on whether Couch could afford bond on the original $1 million bail and how complicit she was in helping Ethan Couch to violate his juvenile probation by fleeing to Mexico.
Ethan Couch is in custody in Mexico City where he is fighting extradition to the U.S. In Tarrant County, he is serving 10 years on probation for a 2013 drunken driving crash that killed four people and injured several others.
The Couches were tracked down in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and were detained on Dec. 28. Tonya Couch was quickly deported and has been in the Tarrant County Jail since Thursday.
More details emerged during the hearing about the trip to Mexico.
An investigator for the Tarrant County district attorney’s office testified that the Couches got together with friends and others before they left for a “planning meeting.”
Investigator Darren Gabbert testified that he was told about the meeting by Ethan Couch’s friend Garrett Ballard.
Ballard, who was a passenger in Ethan Couch’s pickup the night of the deadly crash, told Gabbert that he was at the meeting, and that the group discussed where the Couches would go, how they’d get there and how much money they would need.
A ‘well-financed suspect’
McWilliams testified that his mother does not have access to her bank accounts, which could contain $100,000. He also testified that she lacks friends in Tarrant County and does not have a home.
McWilliams said Fred Couch — Ethan Couch’s father, who filed for divorce from Tonya Couch in August — has been “fairly adamant” that he would not give her any money to make bail.
But prosecutor Richard Rousseau described Tonya Couch as a “well-financed suspect,” who “cut all ties and headed for the border.” He said she was a flight risk and her original bail amount was reasonable.
Salvant said it was clear she could not post a bond on $1 million bail, and that it was set that high only to keep her in jail, which would be considered oppressive under the law.
“As the judge, I’ve got to look at the law,” Salvant said before lowering the bail.
Patten said a defendant typically has to put up 10 percent to 15 percent of the bail in cash.
Salvant also imposed a gag order on those involved in the case.
After clarifying with Salvant what he could talk about, Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said: “Obviously, we were hoping for [a higher bail amount] — I’m not going to say not. But I certainly respect the decision of the court. We’ll hope that the restrictions that have been put on her are sufficient to keep her where she needs to be.”
Staff writer Monica S. Nagy contributed to this report.