Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Resurrection Plea

According to news reports, a former member of a religious cult, Ria Ramkissoon, pleaded guilty to starving her one year old child to death with the condition that her plea will be withdrawn if the child is resurrected. Under the deal with prosecutors, Ramkissoon will also testify against four other members of the cult, formerly known as 1 Mind Ministries, who are also charged in the death.

According to abcnews:

[T]he cult members stopped feeding the boy when he refused to say "Amen" after a meal. After Javon died, Ramkissoon sat next to his decomposing body and prayed for his resurrection.

Ramkissoon's attorney, Steven D. Silverman, said Ramkissoon believes the resurrection will occur. She agreed to plead guilty only after prosecutors said they would drop the charges if the child comes back to life, Silverman said.

"This is something that she absolutely insisted upon, and this is indicative of the fact that she is still brainwashed, still a victim of this cult," he said. "Until she's deprogrammed, she's not going to think any differently."

Baltimore Circuit Judge Timothy J. Doory assured Ramkissoon that the plea would indeed be withdrawn if the child is resurrected.

Ramkissoon pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse resulting in death. She will remain in custody until she testifies against her co-defendants and will receive a suspended 20-year sentence and serve five years probation. Sentencing was scheduled for Aug. 11.

By then, Ramkissoon would have spent about a year behind bars.

As part of her probation, Ramkissoon must submit to treatment, including sessions with an expert on cult behavior.

The maximum sentence for child abuse resulting in death is 30 years, and defendants typically receive between 12 and 20 years, according to Maryland sentencing
guidelines.

Ramkissoon will fare much better under the plea deal than if she had pursued an insanity defense, Silverman said. A court psychiatrist found that she was both competent to stand trial and could have been held criminally responsible for Javon's death because she knew the difference between right and wrong.

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