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Charges Reduced For Woman Who Drove Kids Into Ocean Off Florida


ORLANDO, Fla., April 9 (Reuters) - A pregnant woman who drove a minivan with her three children into the ocean off a Florida beach no longer faces charges that she had planned to kill them, court papers filed on Tuesday show.

The reduced charges of attempted second degree murder require prosecutors to show Ebony Wilkerson, 32, acted with a depraved state of mind, but no plan.

She was originally charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder which carry a presumption of a thought-out plan to kill her children aged 3, 9 and 10, who survived the incident off Daytona Beach, Florida last month.

Wilkerson remains charged with three additional counts of child abuse. If convicted, she could still face a life prison sentence.

Her lawyer, public defender Jim Purdy, told a judge that Wilkerson was transferred from the jail to a hospital for mental health treatment and prenatal care after punching herself in the stomach days after her arrest, and that she still needs mental health care.

A tourist's video on March 4 showed lifeguards and bystanders rushing to help rescue Wilkerson and her children as their van bobbed in the Atlantic Ocean off Daytona Beach.