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Minivan Mom Won't Be in Solitary Confinement Anymore

The woman accused of steering a minivan with her three kids inside into the ocean will stay in a hospital psych unit, but will no longer be in solitary.
Image: Van near ocean
Rescuers stand outside a van after a pregnant mother drove it into the ocean with her three young children inside on March 4, 2014, in Florida.Simon Besner

The woman accused of steering a minivan with her three kids inside into the ocean off Florida will stay in a hospital psychiatric unit, but will no longer be in solitary confinement.

Ebony Wilkerson, 32, of South Carolina, was moved from jail to a hospital earlier this month after officials said they caught her beating her pregnant stomach. She is being held on $1.2 million bond for the March 4 incident in Daytona Beach, after which police say her kids told investigators, "Mom tried to kill us."

Bystanders rescued the three young children.

Defense and prosecution attorneys agreed on Tuesday to leave Wilkerson's bond in place. A judge ruled that she will stay in the psychiatric ward at Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach, but granted her access to group therapy sessions, the exercise area, and the unit's day room with supervision — privileges her lawyer has been fighting for since last week.

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.

The Florida sheriff who charged Wilkerson said he didn't see any signs of mental illness, although her sister had called 911 shortly before the arrest to say she was having emotional problems.

Wilkerson is charged with three counts of attempted murder and three counts of child abuse.

—Elizabeth Chuck
Image: Booking photo of Ebony Wilkerson
This booking photo released by the Volusia County Division of Corrections shows Ebony Wilkerson.Volusia County Corrections via A