Ebony Wilkerson and her attorneys have filed a notice of intent to rely on an insanity defense in the upcoming trial; where she’s accused of three counts of attempted murder and three counts of child abuse. She is accused of attempting to drive herself and her two children into the ocean near the Silver Beach Avenue beach approach here in Daytona.
Ms. Wilkerson expects to prove schizophrenia and psychotic disorder, according to the motion filed by the public defender’s office with the 7th Judicial circuit today.
James Purdy, the Public Defender, says that he has experts that are willing to testify that Ms. Wilkerson had a ‘Mental disease or defect that prevented her from knowing the difference between right and wrong’ during the incident where she’s accused of driving herself, and her children into the Atlantic ocean. The motion has been filed by Craig Dyer, Asst. Public Defender.
Purdy also said that just because they filed the motion, doesn’t necessarily mean that they will seek an insanity defense.
“It is one of the potential defenses we can use. Not guilty is number one,” Purdy said.
The experts named in the motion are Dr. Jeffrey Danziger, Dr. James Moore and Harry Krop.
Public defenders must file the notice if they wish to use the defense at a later date. What happens next is the Prosecution will call in their own expert to examine Ms. Wilkerson’s mental state.
Soon after, there will be a hearing, according to David Smith, chief of operations for the State Attorney’s Office. A judge will then rule if Ms. Wilkerson is competent to stand trial.
Ms. Wilkerson is in her 8th month of pregnancy with her 3rd child. She remains under watch at Halifax Health Medical Center, where she’s been since March of this year when jail officers said she struck herself in the stomach.
She’s being held on 1.2 million dollars bail, but could have that reduced if officials send Wilkerson back to the Volusia County Branch Jail.
Wilkerson was arrested on charges of attempted first-degree murder, but prosecutors filed lesser charges of attempted second-degree murder, which gives defenders a stronger argument to reduce her bail.
“So I would think that a bond reduction would be appropriate when we reach that point,” Purdy said.
Authors Note: We’ll be updating this story as it develops.