A Volusia County judge on Monday delayed a decision to allow
arguments to continue at a court hearing set for March 25.
A public defender representing Ebony Wilkerson was set to argue for
a reduction in her $1.2 million bond on three charges of attempted
murder and three counts of child abuse.
Instead, Jim Purdy, the lawyer, told the judge that his client had
been hospitalized for punching herself in the stomach. He said
Wilkerson, 32, was being held naked in solitary confinement and
watched by two corrections officers in a secure area at a local
hospital, the newspaper reported.
Purdy did not immediately respond to calls for comment.
A tourist's video on March 4 showed lifeguards and bystanders
rushing to help rescue Wilkerson and her children, ages 3, 9 and 10,
as their van bobbed in the waves on Daytona Beach.
The oldest child, a girl, fought with her mother over control of the
steering wheel to try to turn the minivan away from the water, a
report by the Volusia County Sheriff said. The girl and the
9-year-old told investigators their mother was trying to kill them,
according to the report.
Wilkerson underwent a mental health evaluation before being
arrested. Wilkerson, her father and the two older children told
authorities that Wilkerson brought her children to Florida from
South Carolina a few days before the incident to get away from an
The day before the incident, Wilkerson, at her sister's request, was
evaluated by police, who determined that she did not qualify for
involuntary mental health commitment.
The sister took her to the hospital, but Wilkerson left against the
advice of medical personnel, according to the arrest affidavit. The
children told investigators she began acting "crazy" when they
arrived in Florida.
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The 10-year-old girl told investigators that her mother took them to
the beach "so we could die," the sheriff's report said.
Wilkerson locked the doors of her 2012 Honda Odyssey, closed the
windows and told the children to close their eyes and go to sleep,
the children told investigators.
Wilkerson ignored her children's pleas and told them they were going
to a "safer place," the report said.
A witness saw the girl on her mother's lap fighting for control of
the steering wheel, according to investigators.
Wilkerson got out of the minivan and left the children inside. Beach
safety officers who started pulling the children out had to fight
off Wilkerson, who was grabbing at one officer to try to keep him
away from the vehicle, investigators said.
(Reporting by Barbara Liston; editing by Kevin Gray and Mohammad Zargham)
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