Hillsborough judge orders mentally ill woman to state hospital

TAMPA — A judge ordered a mentally ill mother accused of killing her 4-month-old daughter to be committed to a state hospital Wednesday.

Eboni Thompson, 32, was found incompetent to stand trial by two psychiatrists. A third said Thompson was incompetent but may be able to stand trial after six months to a year of intensive therapy.

She had been previously ordered not to have any unsupervised visits with her children, according to court records. In December 2010, Thompson was left alone briefly with 4-month-old Markala by the child's father, Marcus Harden. Tampa police say Thompson put her hand around Markala's neck to make her stop crying. Later, a medical examiner found that Markala had three broken ribs and a broken arm.

Thompson was charged with first-degree felony murder, and Harden was charged with child neglect.

Experts testified in a June 8 hearing that Thompson is mentally disabled and capable of only second-grade intelligence. She also displayed symptoms of battered-woman syndrome and depressive disorder with psychotic features.

Judge Gregory Holder agreed with the experts that Thompson's illness would require around-the-clock care. Her sister, Carol Williams of Virginia, offered to take Thompson in but told the judge that she and her husband planned to continue to work if custody was granted.

"While Mrs. Williams did indicate that their schedules are flexible, the Court has great concern over the possibility that Defendant would be left unsupervised, which is contrary to the available medical advice," Holder wrote in an order released Wednesday.

Committing Thompson to the state hospital Mentally Retarded Defendant's Program allows the court to make sure that Thompson is receiving the recommended care and to continually monitor her progress. Holder's order said she may be released from the state hospital only upon order from the court.

The judge also denied Thompson's motion to dismiss the charges without prejudice, so that lawyers could refile the motion at a later date.

Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at rmitchell@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3373.

Hillsborough judge orders mentally ill woman to state hospital 06/20/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 21, 2012 12:00am]

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