A judge ruled Friday that Ebony Wilkerson, the Florida mother who drove her children into the Atlantic Ocean earlier this year, is not guilty by reason of insanity. The decision came after prosecutors proposed a plea deal, according to the New York Daily News, which cited a report at WESH-TV.
Judge Leah Case accepted the deal to drop three counts of attempted murder and allowed Wilkerson to plead not guilty to three counts of child abuse, the report says. The mother also waived her right to a jury trial as part of the deal, the Daily News writes.
A then-pregnant Wilkerson made headlines in March when she drove herself and three kids, aged 3, 9 and 10, into the Daytona Beach surf during what psychologists called a “psychotic break.” Both the prosecutors and defense attorneys agree she suffered a mental breakdown during the incident, the report says.
Defense attorneys also claimed that Wilkerson had low blood sugar during the incident, but she was never tested for gestational diabetes during her pregnancy. During her incarceration, she gave birth to a boy in May, the report says.
At the start of Friday’s hearing, Wilkerson told Judge Case that she is taking anti-depressant medication. The judge will decide next week if Wilkerson will be committed to a state hospital or placed on community release, according to tweet by Frank Fernandez, court reporter for the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
WESH says the hearing also will establish boundaries for her relationship with her children, whom she has not seen since the incident occurred. It is unclear what happened to her newborn.
The good news here is that everyone involved agrees that Wilkerson’s mental health is as important as the safety and wellbeing of her children. We hope that she and her children receive vital mental health and medical treatment—short and long-term—in the aftermath of this sad and tragic episode.