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Bond reduced for woman who drove kids into ocean

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A mother charged with trying to kill her three children by driving them into the Atlantic Ocean in a minivan with the windows rolled up is no longer hearing voices or having hallucinations, a psychiatrist testified Thursday before a Florida judge reduced the woman's bond.

Ebony Wilkerson, 32, has been back in a Daytona Beach jail for a week since giving birth to her fourth child, a boy, on May 19.

Before Circuit Judge Leah Case made the bond decision, she heard from psychiatrist Jeffrey Danzinger, who said he believed Wilkerson was not a danger to herself or the community. Danzinger testified that after examining Wilkerson three times since the birth that "she presents now with a normal mental status."

"She recognized that she has a mental illness, but she was feeling better and had improved," Danzinger said.

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Public defender Jim Purdy said the bond, reduced from $1.2 million to $90,000, still remains too high for Wilkerson, who is charged with three counts each of attempted murder and child abuse. She would have to raise at least 10 percent of that amount, or $9,000, to secure a bond.

"When you have nothing, $2 is too much," Purdy said.

If Wilkerson, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., does bond out of jail, she must remain in Florida, have no contact with her children, take anti-psychotic medication, and continue seeing a psychiatrist. Wilkerson was attentive and spoke clearly as she testified and said that she would comply with all of those conditions, answering "Absolutely, yes."

The defense has filed a motion to seek a possible insanity defense for Wilkerson. Trial is set for the last week of August.

In March, Wilkerson drove her van into the surf off Daytona Beach. Bystanders and officers pulled her and her children - ages 3, 9 and 10 - from inside as it was almost submerged.

According to a charging affidavit, one of her children told detectives that "Mom tried to kill us." She was arrested a few days later. She has spent part of her incarceration in a hospital receiving psychiatric and prenatal care after she threatened to harm herself and then-unborn son.

Wilkerson's husband, Lutful Ronjon, who has custody of the newborn, testified he had $2,100 that could go toward his wife's bond and would work with family to raise the rest.

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