Trooper: Breast-Feeding Driver Had Homemade ID
Thursday, August 07, 2003
RAVENNA, Ohio — A woman who was breast-feeding her baby while driving had what appeared to be a homemade Pennsylvania identification card instead of a driver's license when she was pulled over, a state trooper testified Thursday.
Catherine Nicole Donkers — a member of an obscure religious sect who maintains that driver's licenses should not be required — described the card as an affidavit, Sgt. Michael A. Harmon said.
Donkers, 29, was charged with driving without a license, along with several other misdemeanors, after being pulled over May 8 on the Ohio Turnpike. State police pursued her for several miles before she stopped, and she insisted on speaking to her husband before cooperating.
Among the other charges facing Donkers, 29, are child endangerment and failure to obey a police officer. She acknowledges breast-feeding while driving and says she did nothing wrong.
Her husband, Brad Lee Barnhill, who was expected to testify later Thursday, was denied his request to stand in for his wife at the trial. They say their religious group requires Barnhill to be responsible for punishing Donkers.
"I directed her to do everything she did that day. ... Under our faith, she obeys me," he said during a break.
The couple — who lack a marriage license but claim to be married — belong to the First Christian Fellowship for Eternal Sovereignty (search), a religious group with a history of challenging the government.
The organization, which pledges allegiance to Jesus Christ, was founded in Henderson, Nev., in the 1990s. Barnhill says he is a minister in the fellowship with 650 followers.
He said he and his wife were living temporarily in Pittsburgh for work, but Donkers was a resident of Livonia, Mich., when arrested.
A conviction for misdemeanor child endangerment carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.