Woman charged in son's death appears in court

Ramkissoon ordered held without bail; 4 others linked to alleged cult accused in starvation death of boy, 2

Baltimore Sun/August 12, 2008

A woman charged with killing her child was ordered held without bail today during a court proceeding at the Central Booking and Intake Center.

Standing in court with her hands shackled behind her back, Ria Ramkissoon, 21, wore a purple jumpsuit, rocked nervously side to side, and shook her head slightly when Judge Theodore B. Oshrine read the charges against her.

She and four other members of a small group, 1 Mind Ministries, that police have called a religious cult, are accused of abusing and neglecting Ramkissoon's 21-month-old boy, Javon Thompson. In arguing for the judge to give Ramkissoon bail, her attorney, Steven D. Silverman, said in court today that the woman was being controlled by adults during the period when her son died.

"This is not a clear-cut case of one mother's cause and the effect of the death," Silverman said. "You have intervening circumstances. My client was not in control. ... I'm convinced in talking to her that she's been grossly over-charged" by Baltimore police detectives.

But Oshrine, citing the "very serious allegations" and noting that Ramkissoon may pose a flight risk, decided against allowing her to post bail. The group's leader, Queen Antoinette, 40, as well as Trevia Williams, 21, Marcus Cobbs, 21, and Steven Bynum, 42, all face charges in Thompson's death. Authorities are still seeking Bynum.

Antoinette and Williams were scheduled to have a bail review today, but they were not brought to court for reasons that were not specified. It was not clear when Cobbs would have his bail review.

City police say Javon died while the group was living in a West Baltimore apartment. After the child's death in early 2007, the group members placed his body in a green suitcase and, a short time later, traveled to Philadelphia, where they left the luggage with an unsuspecting man who let the group live with him for a week. The group next moved to New York, where they may have lived for several months.

Eventually, Baltimore police -- with the help of Philadelphia detectives and authorities in New York City -- tracked down the green suitcase and found the boy's remains. They arrested most of the group in New York and brought them to Baltimore to face murder charges.

Ramkissoon moved back to Baltimore earlier this year on her own and was living in an East Baltimore homeless shelter when she was arrested over the weekend.

Ramkissoon was being held at the city Women's Detention Center under psychiatric observation, according to a Monday court proceeding.

In court today, her attorney, Silverman, said Ramkissoon willingly returned to Baltimore earlier this year while she knew the homicide investigation into her son's death was progressing.

Ramkissoon hardly spoke in court, only saying "yes" to Oshrine when he asked if she had received a copy of the charging documents.

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