2 in 'cult' case denied bail

Pair are among those charged in toddler's death

Baltimore Sun/August 14, 2008

Two women were ordered held without bail yesterday on charges that they participated in the starvation death of a child whom they considered a "demon" because he wouldn't say amen after his meals, according to police charging documents.

Standing side by side in court, Queen Antoinette, 40, and Trevia Williams, 21, refused to be represented by city public defenders during their bail review at the Central Booking and Intake Center. Police say Antoinette was the leader of a cult and that Williams was one of her followers; each is charged with first-degree murder.

When asked by District Judge Charlotte M. Cooksey whether she wanted a preliminary hearing, Antoinette asked the judge to explain what happens during one - and then declined it.

"No, no, I don't want one," she said. Williams also declined a preliminary hearing. During such a hearing, prosecutors show the probable cause that led to an arrest.

Assistant State's Attorney David C. Chiu said in court that the group's members likely would follow Antoinette's lead in the case. "Chances are, the cult members are going to do what she tells them to do," he said.

Cooksey declined to set bail, noting the potential threat to public safety and their flight risk because they had traveled to several states in recent years.

Antoinette, whom police describe as the leader of 1 Mind Ministries, and Williams are among five people charged in the death of 15-month-old Javon Thompson, who died in a West Baltimore apartment in late 2006 or early 2007 after police say group members refused to feed the toddler.

Police say that members of the group placed the boy's remains in a suitcase and traveled to Philadelphia in February 2007. They left the suitcase containing the body with an elderly man they had befriended, and then several members eventually moved to Brooklyn, N.Y.

Philadelphia police - working with authorities in Baltimore and New York - found the suitcase and the boy's remains in April. Four of the group's members were arrested in May on outstanding warrants connected to another incident.

The boy's mother, Ria Ramkissoon, 21, who was also charged with murder this past weekend, is being held without bail. Others charged in the child's death include Marcus Cobbs, 21, and Steven Bynum, 42. Bynum is being sought by authorities in the New York area.

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