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Minivan Mom Case

Reduced Charges Filed for Mom Who Drove Minivan Into Ocean

Prosecutors have filed reduced charges against the pregnant South Carolina woman who drove a minivan with her three kids into the Atlantic Ocean, but they reduced the charges against her.

Ebony Wilkerson, 32, was arrested by Volusia County Sheriff's deputies on three counts of attempted first-degree murder and three child abuse charges after the March 4 incident off of Daytona Beach, Fla.

On Tuesday, prosecutors filed three counts each of attempted second-degree murder and child abuse charges against her.

Klare Ly, a public information officer with Florida State Attorney R.J. Larizza, would not say why the charges were reduced.

"We filed our formal charges that we believe are appropriate," she said.

Public Defender James Purdy said in a statement that his office would enter not guilty pleas for Wilkerson.

“While I was disappointed with the severity of the charges filed by the State Attorney, I am glad the State recognizes that there was no premeditation involved in this incident," Purdy said. "As the 'discovery process' unfolds, I am confident the evidence will show that Ebony Wilkerson never intended to harm her children or herself.”

Wilkerson is accused of steering her car into the water before bystanders rescued her three kids, ages 3, 9, and 10, from the car. Police say her kids told investigators, "Mom tried to kill us."

Wilkerson is seven months pregnant. Days before her arrest, she called South Carolina police alleging her husband had raped her — a claim he denies and blames on a psychotic breakdown.

She has been staying in a hospital psychiatric unit since her arrest and is being held on $1.2 million bond.

—Elizabeth Chuck
Image: Image: Booking photo of Ebony Wilkerson
This booking photo released by the Volusia County Division of Corrections shows Ebony Wilkerson. Wilkerson, accused of driving a minivan carrying her three young children into the ocean surf off Florida, was charged Friday, March 7, with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse, though she has denied trying to harm anyone, authorities said. Volusia County Corrections via A