A Florida woman was arrested for child abuse during a traffic stop Tuesday after police claimed to have found her five-month-old baby riding in the trunk of her car.
Broward County Sheriff's deputies said they pulled over 19-year-old Breona Watkins around 1 a.m. outside of Ft. Lauderdale for driving a car with a broken tail light.
At a bail hearing Tuesday afternoon, Judge John Hurley read aloud from the police report that states the deputies found the child in the trunk lying on a pair hedge shears and other potentially dangerous items.
The Sun-Sentinel reports that Watkins is charged with child abuse, resisting an officer and five traffic-related offenses, including driving without a license and failure to have a child restraint.
The report said Watkins continued to drive for about a half-mile after deputies signaled her to stop. Once she pulled over she allegedly gave a false name and indicated she did not have a driver’s license with her. The car she was driving is registered to her aunt, Todra Richardson.
Richardson told WSVN she didn’t know Watkins had taken the car.
While questioning Watkins, about 15 minutes after pulling her over, Deputy Juan Canino claims he heard a baby crying.
“So, I didn't think maybe it was something in the car, but I kept hearing it, and that's when I (realized) there's a baby in the trunk, so I grabbed the keys, opened the trunk and there he was,” Canino said. “I was very surprised.”
“The child was actually laying on top of a hedge trimmers which are about 12 inches long and are used to cut bushes,” Broward County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Tom Hinton said. “There was an old rusted tire iron that the child was laying on top of and a bunch of other debris. Even in plastic bags and everything, it could have suffocated the child in the back of the car.”
Watkins reportedly was worried she would get ticketed for not having the child in a car seat, so she attempted to hide the baby. Police said they think Watkins instructed a 14-year-old, who was also in the car, to slide the baby through the trunk’s access panel in the back seat before she stopped for police.
The child was unharmed.
Richardson said she thinks Watkins just made a poor decision.
“This situation is very tragic. She a good mother, a good child,” she said. “She lives with me, so I see it on a first-hand basis, and this is by no means, as far as saying that she's a bad mother, I think. She's a great mother.”
Watkins was last reported to be in the Broward County jail, held on a $7,000 bond.