The North Charleston pregnant mother accused of trying to kill her three children by driving her van into the ocean near Daytona Beach, Fla., beat her stomach while in custody following her arrest, according to the woman's attorneys.
Ebony Wilkerson, 32, who is charged with three counts of attempted murder and three counts of child abuse, was in court Monday in Volusia County, Fla., where her attorneys asked a judge to release her to a psychiatric ward.
Wilkerson was hospitalized following her arrest for allegedly striking her belly, according to her attorneys. She is being detained on $1.2 million bail.
Public Defender Jim Purdy wants Wilkerson released to the psychiatric ward at Halifax Health Medical Center, according to a Daytona Beach News-Journal report.
Purdy said Wilkerson currently is being held in solitary confinement in a secure area at Halifax under the watch of two correctional officers, and she was naked in the room, the newspaper reported.
Florida 7th Circuit State Attorney R.J. Larizza opposed her release, and said the only restriction imposed on Wilkerson was when she asked if she could go outside.
"That's where the corrections folks said 'We have to draw the line there,' " Larizza said. "She's charged with some serious crimes. We're extremely concerned about the welfare of the unborn child. This child doesn't have the option to be in foster care. She's carrying this child in the womb. There were issues that brought her back over to the hospital involving the pregnancy and her allegedly striking herself in the belly. We can't ignore the facts."
Wilkerson shook her head while Larizza expressed his concerns to the judge, who did not make a ruling Monday.
An OB-GYN who testified during the hearing suggested that Wilkerson be held at Halifax Hospital for regular treatment during her pregnancy, the News-Journal reported.
After hearing from attorneys for about an hour, the judge, who was presiding over another trial, told the attorneys they would continue the hearing March 25, when prosecutors and defense attorneys will be allowed to present witnesses.
Wilkerson is accused of intentionally driving into the ocean on March 4 with her three children, ages 3, 9 and 10, according to authorities.
Wilkerson has denied trying to harm her children, according to Volusia County Sheriff's officials.
Statements made to investigators by witnesses indicate that Wilkerson drove into the ocean deliberately, and tried to ward off individuals trying to rescue the children, according to an incident report.
The children were treated at a hospital with minor injuries and released to the state's protective custody, according to Florida Department of Children and Families officials.
Two days before arriving at the beach, Wilkerson told North Charleston police that her husband, Ronjon Lutful, 31, had attacked her while they were staying at a hotel in Myrtle Beach on March 1, according to authorities. Myrtle Beach police are conducting an investigation into the allegations, authorities said.
Ronjon has not been charged in that incident.
A Florida judge issued a temporary injunction against Ronjon last week, according to the News-Journal.
In court documents, Jessica Harrell, Wilkerson's sister, said Ronjon threatened to kill her and her sister if she tried to help the woman escape his abuse.
Records show the injunction against Ronjon is in effect until Thursday, when a hearing is scheduled. The injunction orders him to stay away from Harrell, her house, her child's school and a residence where the family is staying.
Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.
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