BALTIMORE — A judge praised a young mother for great strides in her treatment after she starved her 1-year-old son to death while part of a religious cult [1 Mind Ministries], and the woman’s attorney said Wednesday she is breaking free of the belief that her son will be resurrected.
Ria Ramkissoon pleaded guilty to a single count of child abuse resulting in death and received a suspended sentence. Prosecutors agreed to the deal after determining that she had been brainwashed by cult leader Queen Antoinette.
Antoinette was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
After Javon died, Antoinette ordered Ramkissoon and her followers to pray for his resurrection, and Ramkissoon testified in February that she still believed her son would come back to life.
But her faith in the resurrection is fading, according to her attorney, Steven D. Silverman.
“She’s come to realize that she was misled,” Silverman said.
As part of her deal with prosecutors, Ramkissoon has spent the past 90 days in a faith-based residential treatment center. The purpose of Wednesday’s hearing was to let the court know whether the treatment has been effective.
After conferring with Silverman and prosecutors, Baltimore Circuit Judge Timothy J. Doory said he was impressed with Ramkissoon’s progress and ordered her to remain at the treatment center until its operators decide she’s ready to leave. She will likely stay there for a year or longer, Silverman said.
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Members of 1 Mind Ministries cult on trial
BALTIMORE — The leader of a religious cult was “outraged” when a 1-year-old boy did not say “Amen” before a meal and ordered her followers to deprive him of food and water until he died, a Baltimore prosecutor told jurors Monday.
Three members of the now-defunct cult known as 1 Mind Ministries are on trial for murder in the death of Javon Thompson, who was around 16 months old when he died of starvation and dehydration in either December 2006 or January 2007, according to authorities.
After the boy died, the cult members prayed for his resurrection, then destroyed all evidence of his death and stuffed his body in a suitcase, which they hid in a shed behind a home in Philadelphia, Assistant State’s Attorney Julie Drake told jurors.
The cult members – Queen Antoinette, 41; her daughter, Trevia Williams, 22; and Marcus A. Cobbs, 23 – are representing themselves at trial.
The jury of seven men and five women listened intently as Drake recounted how Javon’s mother, Ria Ramkissoon, was recruited into the cult and did nothing to stop her son from wasting away, even though she was “distraught” over his slow and agonizing death.
Ramkissoon pleaded guilty last year to child abuse resulting in death and plans to testify against Antoinette, Williams and Cobbs. At her insistence, the plea deal included an extraordinary provision: If Javon comes back to life, the plea will be vacated.
Ramkissoon, then a teenage single mother, joined the cult because she wanted to become a Christian and was told she wouldn’t have to work or go to school, Drake said.