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Judge: Mom who drove into ocean with kids was insane

A hearing next week will determine if Ebony Wilkerson, who drove her three children into the ocean, will be committed to a state mental hospital.

By
Frances Burns

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Ebony Wilkerson, who drove her three children into the ocean in Daytona, Beach, Fla., pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Friday to child abuse.

Circuit Court Judge Leah Case accepted the plea after making sure Wilkerson wanted to waive a jury trial. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss three counts of attempted murder.

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Case scheduled another hearing Tuesday to determine if Wilkerson can be treated in the community or should be committed to a state hospital.

When Wilkerson, 33, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., was charged in March, Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said she tried to thwart rescuers. Johnson said she locked the doors to her minivan before she headed into the surf and told the children to close their eyes and go to sleep.

Experts for the defense and prosecution agreed that Wilkerson had suffered a break with reality. She was pregnant at the time, had not eaten for days and had low blood sugar.

"All of the experts agree I've read them all that Ms. Wilkerson was suffering from a mental illness and did not know right from wrong at the time of this offense. I do find Ms. Wilkerson that you are not guilty by reason of insanity," Case said.

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Wilkerson appeared calm during Friday's hearing and answered yes when Case asked her if she was "feeling good" and "thinking clearly."

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