Charges Reduced For Mom Accused Of Driving Kids In Ocean [WATCH VIDEO]

By: Associated Press News Email
By: Associated Press News Email

Associated Press News Release

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Prosecutors in Daytona Beach say they've filed attempted second-degree murder and child abuse charges against a pregnant South Carolina woman who drove a minivan carrying her three small children into the Atlantic surf.

Volusia County Sheriff's deputies initially arrested 32-year-old Ebony Wilkerson on three counts each of attempted first-degree murder and child abuse charges following the March 4 incident.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal (http://bit.ly/1qi1UIs ) reports prosecutors wouldn't say why charges were reduced.

Public Defender James Purdy said in a statement that he plans to enter not guilty pleas at Wilkerson's arraignment Thursday. He says he believes the evidence will show Wilkerson never intended to harm the children -- ages 3, 9 and 10 -- or herself.

Beachgoers helped pull the screaming children and Wilkerson from the surf that day.

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Information from: Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal, http://www.news-journalonline.com


Associated Press News Release
By KYLE HIGHTOWER

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- A pregnant South Carolina woman accused of driving her car into the ocean with her three children on board will be allowed to receive in-hospital psychiatric care until a doctor says she's fit to return to jail.

Attorneys for both sides announced the agreement during a 10-minute hearing on 32-year-old Ebony Wilkerson's bond Tuesday in Daytona Beach. It was a continuation of a hearing that began last week. Judge Leah Case wanted to hear more testimony before making a decision.

Wilkerson's defense attorneys also agreed to withdraw a request to reduce her $1.2 million bond on six felony charges -- including attempted murder. They can refile it later.

Wilkerson will also receive prenatal care and be allowed supervised exercise time.


Associated Press News Release

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- A judge is postponing a decision on changing the bond status of a pregnant South Carolina woman charged with attempted murder for driving her three children into the ocean off Daytona Beach.

Judge Leah Case said at Monday's hearing that she will postpone making any decision about Ebony Wilkerson until listening to more testimony next week.

Wilkerson's public defenders had asked the judge to allow her to stay at a hospital mental health unit so she can get psychiatric care. But the judge denied the request.

A prosecutor told the judge that Wilkerson, after her arrest, was forcibly sent to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation for beating her stomach with a fist, even though she is seven months pregnant.

Her defense attorney countered that Wilkerson was being held in isolation.


Associated Press News Release
March 11, 2014

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- A judge has issued a temporary injunction ordering the husband of the woman accused of trying to kill her three children by driving into the ocean to stay away from some family members.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1foINsV ) that a circuit judge issued the injunction Monday against Lutful Ronjon, husband of Ebony Wilkerson of North Charleston, S.C.

In court documents, Wilkerson's sister Jessica Harrell says Ronjon threatened to kill her and her sister if she tried to help the woman escape his abuse.

Records show the injunction against Ronjon is in effect until March 20, when a hearing is scheduled.

The injunction orders Ronjon to stay away from Harrell, her house, her child's school and a residence where the family is staying.

Wilkerson is in jail in Florida on attempted murder and other charges.

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Information from: Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal, http://www.news-journalonline.com


Associated Press News Release
Updated: March 10, 2014, 5pm

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- A new police report says the first thing a pregnant South Carolina woman said after driving a minivan carrying her three young children into the ocean surf off Florida was that she was abused by her husband.

The report released Monday says a Daytona Beach safety officer asked Ebony Wilkerson if she was injured after she swerved the car into the ocean last week. Wilkerson responded with the abuse allegation.

Wilkerson is being held on $1.2 million bail. She is charged with three counts of attempted murder and three counts of child abuse.

Bystanders and officers helped pull her and her children -- ages 3, 9 and 10 -- from their minivan as it was almost submerged.

One of the children told another officer that their mother was "sleepwalking."


News Release: Associated Press News
Updated: March 7, 2014, 8:15pm

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- A pregnant South Carolina woman who drove a minivan carrying her three young children into the ocean surf off Florida is being charged with attempted murder and aggravated child abuse.

Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said Friday that 32-year-old Ebony Wilkerson is being charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated child abuse.

Bystanders and officers helped pull Wilkerson and her children from their minivan as it was almost submerged on Tuesday on Daytona Beach. The children are 3, 9 and 10.

The sheriff says Wilkerson has denied trying to harm her children, but her children told investigators otherwise.

Johnson says the windows were rolled up and the doors were locked. He says one of the children tried to wrestle the steering wheel away.


News Release: Associated Press News
Updated: March 5, 2014, 6:45pm

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Officials say Daytona Beach police officers stopped a pregnant South Carolina woman shortly before she drove a minivan carrying her three children into the Atlantic Ocean.

Police Chief Mike Chitwood says 31-year-old Ebony Wilkerson's sister had called police Tuesday, concerned about her sibling's mental state. Chitwood said Wednesday that when his officers later stopped Wilkerson's black Honda Odyssey, she expressed fear that her husband would be coming to Florida to harm her and her children. He says the officers reported she seemed lucid and the children appeared to be safe.

Two hours later, Wilkerson drove into the ocean.

Bystanders and officers helped pull Wilkerson and her children -- ages 3, 9 and 10 -- from their minivan.

The children were turned over to welfare authorities. The Volusia County Sheriff's Office says Wilkerson was undergoing a mental evaluation.


Associated Press News Release

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- A family from South Carolina is safe after their minivan became submerged in the Atlantic surf on Daytona Beach.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal (http://bit.ly/1cBhiYk) reports the woman and her children -- ages 3, 9, and 10 -- somehow ended up in the water around 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Beach Safety Capt. Tammy Marris says the woman was already driving on the beach, where cars are allowed. It is not clear how the vehicle ended up in the water.

Rescuers ran to the scene and got the woman and children out of the water. The family was taken to Halifax Health Medical Center for treatment. Their vehicle was towed.

Marris says authorities are investigating the incident.

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Information from: Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal, http://www.news-journalonline.com


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