A woman is being held on a $1 million bond after she allegedly killed a college student in a hit-and-run and fled the United States for her birth country of Thailand. Authorities have alleged defendant Tubtim “Sue” Howson, 57, fatally struck Benjamin Kable, 22, in the early morning hours on Jan. 1 in Oakland County, Michigan.
“We are extremely pleased we have our suspect in custody in Oakland County, and we thank Judge Asadoorian for her attention to the fact that clearly the defendant has been a flight risk to the extreme,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in a statement. “I look forward to her being held accountable.”
Authorities claim Howson flew out on Jan. 3, just two days after Kable died, traveling from Detroit to Texas to Finland and finally to Bangkok, they said. Eventually, she wound up in custody and back in the U.S., where she has been detained in San Francisco since Feb. 22 until she returned to Michigan on Wednesday. She pleaded not guilty at her arraignment on Friday for a count of failure to stop at the scene resulting in death, records show.
The prosecutors wanted her held without bond, according to WDIV.
Her defense lawyer Jalal Jamil Dallo maintained that his client simply panicked. She had gone to Thailand to be with her husband, but she turned herself in to authorities there, he said.
“She’s not a flight risk,” Dallo said. “That was when she had panicked. The panic is over. She’s back, judge.”
Judge Lisa Asadoorian, however, highlighted through questioning that Howson purchased a one-way ticket.
If Howson were to post bond, she would have to give up her passport and driver’s license, wear an electronic tether, and stay under house arrest.
Kable was either standing or walking on Rochester Road south of Whims Lane in Oakland Township when the incident happened at approximately 5:49 a.m. on Jan. 1, deputies said.
“Witnesses stated the vehicle continued south, turned around to go north, and remained in the area for a short period of time after the crash,” federal documents said. “The driver of the vehicle then fled the scene after the incident. AV-1 suffered fatal injuries as a result of the crash and died at the scene.”
Howson, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Thailand “who lived not far from the crash,” fled the scene, authorities claim. Investigators said they got a description of the vehicle and also received a tip that named Howson as the driver.
She allegedly told another person that she believed she killed someone and that she was returning to Thailand. When encouraged to surrender to the police, she refused, according to federal documents.
“No cops,” she allegedly said. “No cops.”
Kable was home for the holiday break as a student at Michigan State University, federal authorities said.
“It’s very difficult when you lose a child,” Benjamin’s father Michael Kable told WDIV on Friday. “Obviously, it’s the worst thing you can go through, and we’re still dealing with it. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, and we still got a few hills left.”
A GoFundMe campaign to support Kable’s family raised $12,482 of a $25,000 goal as of Monday.
A probable cause conference is scheduled for Friday.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]