The Michigan woman who fled to Thailand after allegedly being involved in a fatal hit-and-run incident that left a college student dead was given a $1 million bond during a court hearing.
Tubtim “Sue” Howson fatally struck Ben Kable, a Michigan State University student with her 2016 BMW 320i on Jan. 1 at 5:49 a.m., according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.
Following the incident, Howson got on a plane on Jan. 3 to Bangkok, Thailand. Howson is a U.S. citizen and is originally from Thailand, according to travel records reviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Judge Lisa Anderson handed down a $1 million bond during an arraignment hearing on Friday, saying that she traveled to another continent after the alleged crime, according to FOX 2. Howson is being charged with failure to stop at the scene of a crime resulting in serious impairment or death as well as a federal charge for fleeing the country.
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“You bought a one-way ticket and traveled eight thousand miles away to another continent,” Asadorian said. “Your bond in this case will be $1 million cash, surety, no ten percent.”
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Assistant Prosecutor Andrea Ajlouni initially asked for bond to be either denied or set at $5 million cash, adding that Howson is a major flight risk
“Not only was there a tragic death but this defendant is already known for leaving the scene – hence the charge,” Ajlouni said. “Your honor, this offense happened on January 1. This defendant fled the country on the third of January. She didn’t leave Oakland County, she didn’t even leave the state of Michigan, she fled the country.
Howson’s attorney, Jalal Dallo, argued that she’s not a flight risk and flew to Thailand to see her husband who was overseas for work.
“The reason she left is to be with her family. She left in a panic, she didn’t know what to do. She’s never been in a situation like this,” Dallo said. “She wasn’t fleeing to hide or escape. She needed support. She went there. Her husband was there.”
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Her husband returned to the U.S. with Howson in Feburary. Dallo said during the hearing that Howson went to police in Thailand before asking Asadorian to release the woman on a personal bond.
“They believed that she would return on her own and she did – here she is – not because was forced to, because she did it on her own,” Dallo said.
Asadorian wasn’t buying it, and noted that law enforcement agencies in two countries needed to work to bring Howson back to the U.S.
“There’s been a delay in these legal proceedings and that delay was caused by you, and there will be no further delay,” Asadorian said.
If Howson posts bond, she’ll be placed under house arrest and have to wear a GPS monitor.
Michael Kable, Ben’s father, said that he’s pleased to see justice is arriving.
MICHIGAN WOMAN CHARGED IN COLLEGE STUDENT’S DEATH TO RETURN TO US AFTER FLEEING TO THAILAND
“It’s very difficult losing a child. Obviously, it’s the worst thing you can go through, it’s an emotional roller coaster and we will have a few hills left,” Kable said. “I’m just happy to see that justice is finally here.”
When others encouraged Howson to turn herself in, she allegedly said “no cops, no cops,” an FBI official wrote in a court document.
At the request of the FBI, police in Thailand began to track Howson on Jan. 12, and found her on Jan. 14, suggesting that she turn herself in and go back to the United States.
A spokesperson for the FBI said that Howson arrived in San Francisco on Feb. 24 and was then taken into federal custody.
During a police-held press conference in Thailand, Howson said that she thought she was going to be robbed before hitting Kable, according to the Bangkok Post.
“I thought I was about to be robbed … I was looking at the car on the roadside. It was dark, and then I hit something in front of me … At first I thought I hit a deer, but later realized I hit a man,” Howson said.
“I did not think I would run away, but I was very shocked. I tried to call the police but my hands were shaking. I could not do anything,” she added.