Putting your baby in a car’s trunk on top of garden shears, a rusty tire iron and a gas can is not the way to get out of a traffic ticket.
A Lauderdale Lakes mother learned that the hard way and remained in jail Wednesday on a $7,000 bond. She is facing charges that include child abuse, resisting arrest and driving without a license.
Breona Watkins, 19, was pulled over Tuesday for a headlight problem — then tried to avoid a ticket for not having a car seat.
She appeared before a judge in a custody hearing Wednesday, Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4 reported. Her grandmother, Laura Richardson, said Watkins loves her 5-month-old son but didn’t react well to the traffic stop.
“She did what any child would do,” Richardson said, noting Watkins’ young age. “She just made a mistake.”
“That’s what I did,” Watkins said in a hallway after a CBS 4 reporter relayed what her grandmother said.
Watkins was driving a silver Dodge Stratus at about 1 a.m. Tuesday morning down West Sunrise Boulevard when a deputy noticed that her driver side headlight was out, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office report. The deputy tried to pull her over, but she drove about a half-mile before stopping.
“I asked Breona why she did not pull over immediately and she said she has never been pulled over before,” Deputy Thomas Hinton wrote in the report.
Watkins originally gave the deputy a fake name, later saying she lied because she didn’t have a license.
It took cops about 15 minutes to realize the baby was in the trunk. A deputy heard crying and didn’t see a baby in the car.
“At no point during the entire 15 minutes prior to [the deputy] finding the infant in the trunk did Breona or [the passenger] tell deputies that there was a 5-month-old child alone in the enclosed trunk,” the deputy wrote.
Watkins told deputies she instructed her 14-year-old passenger to put the baby in the trunk by putting the rear seat down. He left the seat down until Watkins pulled over, then snapped it back into position.
Deputy Hinton said in the report that the trunk was “warmer than the ambient air,” and that the baby was found “lying on top a large pair of bush cutting shears, a rusty metal hanger, a plastic CD case and a large rusted tire iron.”
“In addition, there was a used gas can in the trunk of the car, a used fuel pump, plastic bags and many other hazardous materials which could have easily injured or killed the infant,” the deputy wrote.
The owner of the car, the 14-year-old passenger’s mother, was called and she told deputies she had not given Watkins permission to take the car.
Watkins’ efforts to avoid a ticket failed: In addition to the more serious charges, she also got a ticket for not having a car seat.