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Tampa mother whose baby drowned back in court, headed to mental hospital

TAMPA — Her baby boy drowned in a bathtub on Aug. 3, 2007. She'd left him in there with his 2-year-old sister and a running faucet, then got distracted in a conversation investigators said involved marijuana.

Katrina Lynn Brooks, 24, was sentenced to five years of probation last year for neglect, spared prison after a judge considered her young age and lack of a criminal record and heard her attorneys describe her sad life.

Now, after arrests for a probation violation and a felony drug charge, Brooks is again in state custody — this time, headed to a mental hospital.

Officers said they found her out past her probation's curfew in February, then found in her car, a straw and white powder residue she told them was "bath salts." The once-legal substance MDPV was banned by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in January.

Circuit Judge Gregory Holder committed Brooks after a doctor found her incompetent to proceed with her cases. Her mental health was not discussed in court Thursday. Lawyers will review reports on her progress within six months.

At the sentencing for neglect in her baby's death, her attorneys described her as a "child raising children," a jobless high school dropout with no more than an eighth-grade education raising two kids alone.

They said she cried so hard over her dead son that she hyperventilated and fainted. She took parenting classes to become a better mother, but when her own mother died, she fell into depression that cost her the custody of her daughter.

The plan last year at her sentencing was for her to get a job, to get away from drugs and to find stability. Later that month, she was arrested for violating probation when the state Corrections Department said she'd moved without permission and failed to provide her new address.

On records for her curfew and drug arrest this year, she was listed as unemployed.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at azayas@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3354.

Tampa mother whose baby drowned back in court, headed to mental hospital 03/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 24, 2011 11:24pm]
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