The mother accused of leaving her two daughters in a car for about 15 hours last June was sentenced Wednesday to 40 years in prison.
“This is heartbreaking and distressing,” said Judge N. Keith Williams. “The most compelling piece of evidence was the slow and painful deaths these children endured — with cramps, headaches, seizures, anxiety and wondering ‘where’s mommy.’”
Williams sentenced Amanda Kristene Hawkins to 20 years in prison on each pair of counts in two separate cases — one case for each of her daughters, Addyson Overgard-Eddy, 2, and Brynn Hawkins, 1.
While the pair of terms for each case will be served concurrently, Hawkins must serve the terms for each separate case consecutively.
Hawkins pleaded guilty in September to two counts of abandoning a child, causing imminent danger of death, bodily injury or physical or mental impair- ment; and two counts of injury to a child, recklessly causing serious bodily injury or serious mental deficiency — one for each girl.
Williams also positively ruled on a deadly weapon finding, filed by the District Attorney’s Office, which had argued that the car the girls were in was used as a tool that caused their deaths.
At some point on or between June 6 and June 7 last year, Addyson Overgard-Eddy and Brynn Hawkins were left inside a black car outside a home in the 2900 block of Riverside Drive, according to police reports.
That night, Hawkins, 20, and a group of friends were smoking marijuana in a small shed outside the home.
Brynn Hawkins was taken out of the car and sat with the group while they were smoking, according to testimony released during the hearing.
The girl was eventually put back in the car. Later, a 16-year-old, later identified as Kevin William Franke, slept with Addyson and Brynn in the car, but left.
People reported hearing the girls crying, and someone told Amanda to take the girls out of the car because it was too hot.
But she reportedly told them “they’ll cry themselves to sleep.”
Temperatures reached 85.6 degrees at 11:35 a.m. June 7, according to hourly weather observations recorded at the Kerrville Municipal Airport for the National Weather Service.
By noon, when the girls were retrieved from the vehicle, the temperature inside the car would have been about 119 degrees, according to a vehicle interior temperature scale formulated in a study by the San Francisco University Department of Geosciences.
Hawkins did not immediately take the girls to the hospital, according to testimony.
She bathed them and searched on the Internet how to treat heat stroke, said John Hoover, assistant district attorney for the 216th District.
A few hours later, she and Franke took the girls to Peterson Regional Medical Center, where she told staff the children were smelling flowers at Flat Rock Park and collapsed, according to reports.
The girls, who were transferred to University Hospital in San Antonio, were pronounced dead about 5 p.m on June 8.
Daniel Gebhard, a physician in charge of the pediatric intensive care unit at University Hospital, said doctors thought the girls had been poisoned, so they were going for that course of treatment.
But he had a feeling it wasn’t the full story.
“I told her it wasn’t quite adding up, and asked her if there was anything else she could tell me,” Gebhard said.
But Hawkins never did, and it wasn’t until he talked to police that Gebhard was able to piece together what happened.
“It was a busy day, in general, that day. Everyone else in the unit had a story that made sense,” he said. “This one didn’t.”
He also said Hawkins appeared to be detached and was on her phone.
That behavior was something Lana Benavides, a nurse at the pediatric intensive care unit, also noted.
“She was not engaging. She spent the majority of her time on her phone and not making eye contact,” Benavides said.
And as Addyson Overgard-Eddy was dying the next day, Benavides wrapped her in a blanket and gave her to Hawkins for one last good-bye.
“She looked everywhere but her baby. She looked at the ceiling, the wall and at me, but she wouldn’t make eye contact with her baby,” she said.
Hawkins’ lawyer, Kurt Rudkin, called on her mother, grandmother and brother to testify. They all said she was an adoring mother who loved her children.
“They were clean and well-fed,” said her mother, Alisha Eddy.
And Sally Smithson, director of Young Lives, a local nonprofit that serves as a resource for teen mothers, described Hawkins as “interactive” and “patient” with her daughters.
Hawkins’ parents divorced while she was in jail. Growing up, she was described as a “daddy’s girl,” but that all changed when her father got a job in Africa while she was in middle school and only came home twice a year.
“That took a big toll on her. That’s who she looked up to,” Alisha Eddy said. “She needed her dad in her life.”
The defense argued it left a void in her life, bringing in Stephen Thorne, a psychologist who administered a mental evaluation.
“When her dad left, it caused issues. She started going down the path of instability,” Thorn said.
He said the tests showed she was immature, having the maturity of a 12-year-old, and was dependent on attention.
“Adolescents need something to make them feel good about themselves. She never had that, so it became relationships,” Thorne said.
During the hearing, it was revealed that Hawkins wrote to several men while in jail, detailing how many children she wanted.
And in April, she admitted to having an inappropriate, non-sexual relationship with a Kerr County corrections officer, Cpl. Christopher Berge.
“She cared more about the men she was writing to the names of her unborn children than Addyson and Brynn,” Hoover said in his closing remarks.
He said Hawkins only cared about herself and showed that about lying, as not to get caught, getting a comfortable hotel room and partying.
“Where’s that adoring mother when she’s being begged to tell what happened to save her children,” he said.
Rudkin asked that Hawkins be sentenced to probation.
“There’s no denying this is a horrible situation, and we’re not excusing her behavior,” he said.
Rudkin said Hawkins wasn’t malicious but showed a lack of poor judgment.
“Another individual was in the car, and rolled up the windows and turned it off,” he said. “Had he said he did what she (Hawkins) told him to do, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”
Before she was sentenced, Hawkins apologized for her actions.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I think about what I should have done,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking, and it will affect me for the rest of my life.”