FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A Broward Sheriff’s (BSO) Deputy who said he discovered a baby in the trunk of a car during a traffic stop spoke out about the encounter Wednesday evening.
BSO Deputy Juan Canino said he heard crying coming from the trunk after he stopped 19-year old Breona Watkins. He followed the noise and found the child lying on top of a large pair of bush cutting shears, a rusty metal hanger, a plastic CD case and a large rusted tire iron.
“I got closer to the trunk and then I heard it,” Canino told CBS4’s Carey Codd.
“Grabbed the keys, popped it open and geez, I couldn’t believe it. There was a tiny, little kid. I was shocked. I was kinda angry, too,” said Canino.
He said his first instinct was to take care of the baby.
“He was crying, with tears on his face, coming down the side,” Canino said. “Seemed like, one he was hungry and two he was scared.”
Sergeant Thomas Hinton said he spent 15 or 20 minutes talking with Watkins and a 14-year old passenger before Canino discovered the baby.
“At no time during that 15-20 minutes when I was out with them did either of them mention that there was a child in the trunk,” Hinton said. “Sometimes people are hiding contraband or weapons. I’ve never had anyone hide a baby before.”
Watkins appeared in court Wednesday for a custody hearing and said she made a mistake.
Watkins is facing a slew of charges including child abuse without great bodily harm, resisting an officer without violence, operating without a valid driver’s license and no safety belt for a passenger under 18.
During the custody hearing, Watkins’ grandmother who is trying to get custody of the infant said her granddaughter is a good mother and simply had a lapse in judgement.
“She got frightened and she did what any child would do, because she’s still a child,’ Watkins’ grandmother said. “She made a mistake.”
With a smile on her face, Watkins played it cool while heading into court to learn what would happen to her 5-month old son.
Flipping her head at the judge, she wasn’t too happy in court when she faced accusations of stashing her infant in the trunk of a car. Tears later replaced the big smile as the young mother headed back to lock up, admitting she made a mistake.
CBS’s Ted Scouten asked Watkins on her way out of court, “Your grandmother said you just made a mistake?”
Watkins responded, “That’s what I did.”
Scouten asked, “You just made a mistake?”
“Yes,” Watkins responded.
BSO said they were going to stop Watkins because of a broken headlight. After being signaled to stop, an arrest affidavit shows Watkins pulled over about a quarter-mile later.
Deputies said Watkins did not want a ticket for not having the baby in a car seat, so she told the 14-year-old teen in the passenger seat to hide the baby in the trunk before stopping.
Deputies said they didn’t realize the child was there until after they placed her into a squad car for driving with no license.
BSO said there was also 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 baby is the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families. The department is evaluating if Watkins’ grandmother is fit to take custody of the baby.
Watkins is being held on $7,000 bond.
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