Atty: "Minivan mom" hospitalized after punching herself

Ebony Wilkerson

AP Photo/Volusia County Corrections

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The pregnant South Carolina woman accused of driving a minivan carrying her three children into the ocean off Daytona Beach, Fla. earlier this month was transferred last week from jail to a hospital after she was caught punching herself in the stomach, a state attorney said Monday, according to CBS affiliate WKMG.

Ebony Wilkerson, 32, who is being held on $1.2 million bail on three counts of premeditated attempted first-degree murder and three counts of child abuse, is being held in a solitary part of the psychiatric unit at Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach.

Wilkerson's defenders argued Monday the reason their client hurt herself in jail is because of how she was being treated.

"What happens when you put someone with a mental condition with no clothes, no blanket, 72 degrees, in a concrete cell with a small window and two people looking at you?," Assistant Public Defender Craig Dyer said, according to the station.

Wilkerson was arrested March 7 after police say she locked the doors of her 2012 Honda Odyssey, put up the windows and told her three frightened children - ages 3, 9 and 10 - to close their eyes and go to sleep as she drove into the ocean on March 4.

Video of the incident shows Wilkerson's minivan traveling along the shoreline before it eventually veers into the water.

The children were rescued by beach officials and onlookers, and were not seriously injured. Wilkerson was taken to Halifax Health Medical Center following the incident for a mental health evaluation. She was later arrested and charged.

Police have said Wilkerson spoke to her sister about demons in the hours before driving into the ocean and her sister had notified police.

Police have also said that family members of Wilkerson told them Wilkerson was in an abusive relationship and that she had come to Florida to get away from her husband. Wilkerson's sister has since filed an injunction against Wilkerson's husband, alleging he has been making threats against her family.

During the hearing Monday, Wilkerson's lawyer argued for her to be transferred to the general mental health unit at the hospital where she could be evaluated by a psychiatrist and treated. They also argued for her bond to be lowered so that she could get out of jail following her release from the hospital. The judge said she will rule on that matter during a March 25 hearing.

Wilkerson's children are currently in state custody.

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