DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A judge has determined a South Carolina mother was insane when she drove her three children into the ocean off Daytona Beach earlier this year.
Circuit Judge Leah Case ruled Friday that Ebony Wilkerson was not guilty by reason of insanity of three counts of child abuse. Prosecutors, in turn, dropped three attempted murder counts against her.
"I do find, Mrs. Wilkerson, that you are not guilty by reason of insanity," said Case.
Case ruled that Wilkerson did not know right from wrong due to a mental illness. Wilkerson was also pregnant at the time.
Wilkerson's attorney said the plea deal was reached after a psychologist hired by prosecutors agreed with a defense psychologist that Wilkerson had a psychotic break during the incident.
Wilkerson waived her right to a trial by jury.
Case: "They want me to find, or, a jury to find that you were not guilty of the charges that the state filed against you because you were insane at the time of the alleged offense. Do you understand what I'm saying, so far?"
Wilkerson, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, drove her van into the surf in March. Bystanders and officers pulled her and her children from the van.
"At that particular time, she had all of those stressors building up and the psychotic event occurred and all of the doctors recognize that," said public defender Craig Dyer.
Wilkerson's defense team told the judge she is currently taking Lexapro, a medication used to treat anxiety and depression. They also said she is able to think clearly and understand.
The judge ordered a hearing next week during which she'll determine whether Wilkerson needs to be hospitalized for treatment or can be released with court supervision.