Judge says mom who killed kids will stay in hospital

A request to move from hospital supervision to a more relaxed group home was denied Wednesday for a woman who stabbed her two children to death in 2007.


Augusta Circuit Superior Court Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet said he wasn’t comfortable granting a petition by Jeanette Michelle Hawes that she be taken out of the hospital. He expressed concern that her mental condition remains balanced only with medication.

“I’m just concerned about putting her in a less restrictive environment,” Overstreet said. “We know what she’s capable of.”

Doctors determined that she suffered a psychotic breakdown Nov. 29, 2007, when she repeatedly stabbed Shakayla Hawes, 3, and Jordan Hawes, 1, in a gas station bathroom on Lumpkin Road. Overstreet found Hawes not guilty by reason of insanity at a bench trial in January on charges including murder.

Hawes was involuntarily committed to Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah, where she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Two years of medication and counseling have stabilized her mental condition, two doctors at the hospital testified Wednesday.

In their opinion, Hawes no longer meets the criteria for in-patient civil commitment.

Assistant District Attorney Pittman Morris pressed the point that her medication is solely responsible for her improved condition. In October 2010, doctors reduced the dosage of one of her drugs, which produced a psychotic episode after six weeks.

Dr. John Prather, a staff psychi­atrist, said Hawes suffered grandiose delusions that she was
married to professional football player Michael Vick and that Michael Jackson was her father. He described her as “hyperactive,” “angry with staff,” and “suspicious of others” and said she approached some of the staffers in a physically threatening manner.

Mental health specialist David Ethridge said that the episode was a learning opportunity and that doctors now know not to alter her medication. He testified that staffers at the group home were trained to look for signs Hawes wasn’t taking her medication and that there were safeguards to prevent a similar episode.

He also said she was willing to take birth control medication to prevent her from having any more children.

Overstreet wasn’t convinced, however, that sufficient precautions were in place to take Hawes out of strict supervision. Leaving open the possibility of another petition after a year, Overstreet denied the current petition because it “would subject the community to potential harm.”

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