No decision on moving mom who drove kids into ocean to mental health unit

By Erik von Ancken, Anchor/Reporter, evonancken@clickorlando.com
Michelle Dendy, ClickOrlando.com Web Editor, mdendy@clickorlando.com
Published On: Mar 17 2014 06:36:54 AM EDT
Updated On: Mar 17 2014 02:33:52 PM EDT

Local 6's Erik Von Ancken gives an update on the Ebony Wilkerson trial.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -

A judge did not rule at a hearing on Monday if the pregnant South Carolina mother who deputies said drove a van with her three children into the Daytona Beach surf will be moved to a mental health unit.

Ebony Wilkerson, 32, is being held on $1.2 million bail and was attempting to get her bond reduced. She is charged with three counts of attempted murder and three counts of child abuse.

One of the children said that Wilkerson, who is 27 weeks pregnant, locked the doors of the van, put the windows up and drove into the surf, saying she was doing it to “keep all of us safe.”

Her children -- ages 3, 9 and 10 -- were not seriously injured in the incident and were rescued by beach officials and onlookers.  The children were placed in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Wilkerson told investigators she was trying to get away from her abusive husband.

Wilkerson's public defender James Purdy said on Monday that he is requesting to transfer Wilkerson into a mental health unit at Halifax Hospital, where she will be under psychiatric care.

Purdy said Wilkerson's pregnancy would also be easier to handle at the hospital and not at the jail.

The state said Wilkerson was beating her pregnant stomach with a fist and that's why she was involuntarily taken into custody because she seemed to be a threat to herself. The defense said she reacted that way because her clothes and blanket were taken away from her and she was locked in solitary confinement.

"We can't ignore the facts," said RJ Iarizzo of the state, pointing out that Wilkerson is charged with attempted murder.

The judge said she will not make a ruling until another hearing at March 25 at 11 a.m., where the defense will give more precedent for asking to move Wilkerson to a bigger psychiatric ward.

Check back with ClickOrlando.com for more on this story.

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