Amanda Hawkins, the mother of two toddlers who died in a hot car two years ago, is appealing her 40-year prison sentence in the deaths of her daughters.
Hawkins’ court-appointed attorney, Kurtis Rudkin, said the case merits appeal based on the grounds that her confession was improperly obtained and that the sentencing exceeded what was legally allowed.
The 21-year-old Kerrville woman was convicted of four felonies in 2018: two counts of abandoning/endangering a child causing serious bodily injury and two counts of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury.
The same case has resulted in the prosecution of Kerrville teenager Kevin Franke, who was 16 years old at the time of the girls’ deaths and who was indicted on murder charges in connection with the deaths.
Hawkins case is pending in the 13th Court of Appeals.
Rudkin said the case merits appeal on three grounds:
• His client’s confessions were improperly obtained, because Hawkins was not read her rights in one instance, and in another instance investigators didn’t stop their interview after she asked when she would get an attorney.
• Two of the charges were invalid because they erroneously identified the vehicle the kids were in as a deadly weapon.
• The sentences were improperly imposed, resulting in a longer prison term than legally permitted.
In a brief filed in response to Rudkin’s claims, the office of 216th District Attorney Lucy Wilke alleges the comments Hawkins made to investigators during the first interview were not included in the arrest affidavit.
The DA’s office said during the second interview, Hawkins was given opportunities to discontinue the interview. Each of the two times she asked when she would get an attorney, an investigator told her one would be appointed to her and asked whether she wanted to continue to talk, according to the DA’s brief.
In response to Rudkin’s allegation that the car should not have been considered a deadly weapon for the sake of charging, the DA’s brief claims an expert medical witness gave the opinion under testimony that the way in which Hawkins intended to use or used her vehicle made it capable of causing death or serious bodily injury to the children, who reportedly already were at risk of severe dehydration for some time before they were left in the car for the last time.
In response to Rudkin’s allegation that the four prison sentences should not have been ruled to run consecutively, the DA’s brief claims Hawkins’s acts against each child constituted separate and distinct offenses.
“It was also an explicit term of the plea agreement between the State and the Appellant that the court would retain its ability to order consecutive sentences between the offenses ...,” the DA’s brief states.
Rudkin filed a motion for a new trial on Jan. 10 alleging “the punishment Defendant received is excessive and contrary to the evidence admitted at the sentencing trial.”
The motion also claimed the 40-year sentence violated the constitutional prohibitions against double jeopardy and cruel and unusual punishment.
“The cumulative/consecutive sentences rendered by this Court impose multiple punishments for the same crime and single criminal episode,” Rudkin’s motion states.
Rudkin’s motion was rejected in February by 216th District Judge N. Keith Williams.
Hawkins left Addyson Overgard-Eddy, 2, and Brynn Hawkins, 1, inside a car for 15 hours near a home in the 2900 block of Riverside Drive in June 2017. The girls were taken out of the car at about noon and taken to Peterson Regional Medical Center, where Hawkins told staff the children collapsed after smelling flowers at Flat Rock Park. The toddlers were transferred to University Hospital in San Antonio and pronounced dead at 5 p.m. the next day. A doctor testified there would have been a greater likelihood the girls could have been saved if Hawkins had been immediately honest about what happened.
Hawkins is in the Hilltop prison unit in Gatesville. She is eligible for parole on June 12, 2027.
In Franke’s case, prosecutors accused him of going into the car and sleeping there while the girls were in the vehicle, and of leaving the girls there. Franke claims that he didn’t know the girls were there.
At least one local pastor has spoken out in Franke’s defense.
Franke’s attorney, Richard Ellison, submitted a motion this month that was ruled upon by Williams, but the motion and order are sealed and can only be unsealed by a court order.
Franke has a status hearing set for 8:30 a.m. Nov. 21, 2019, before Williams on the second floor of the Kerr County Courthouse, 700 Main St.