A YOUNG Baltimore woman who starved her son to death after she became involved with a bizarre Christian cult has released from jail – on condition that she attends a rehabilitation programme at a faith-based treatment centre.
Ria Ramkissoon, who recently pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in the death of her 16-month-old son, Javon Thompson, was given a more lenient sentence than the other cult members convicted of murder.
Cult leader Queen Antoinette, of 1 Mind Ministries, ordered her followers not to feed Javon when he did not say “Amen” during a mealtime prayer. TheÂ toddler died of starvation.Â His body was laterÂ found stuffed in aÂ suitcase in Pennsylvania.Â Ramkissoon testified against Antoinette, her daughter and another man, who were convicted of second-degree murder.Â They have not been sentenced yet.
Ramkissoon, who has been in jail since her 2008 arrest, was given five years’ probation yesterday, and must complete a programme at a Christian-based, out-of-state residential treatment facility.
Assistant State’s Attorney Julie Drake calledÂ Ramkissoon’s sentence fair and compassionate. She says the state sees Ramkissoon as a victim.
In the beginning, I think I shared the view of a lot of people that we should just lock her up and throw away the key. That any motherÂ who would allow her child to starve toÂ deathÂ must be a cold and unfeeling person. [But] there was no malice in her at all regarding this baby. None. And we want to punish people for acts that are malicious.
Steve Silverman, Ramkissoon’s defence attorney, said:
She has been brainwashed. These people are manipulative murderers and now she is starting to realize that yes, she was really sucked in and duped by these people. I think she is starting to realise, albeit painfully realise, that there will be no resurrection [of Javon], that Queen Antoinette never spoke with God. Ria and her child were just pawns in theÂ Queen’s fantasy world.
If Ramkissoon completes her treatment and follows all other conditions of her probation, she will not return to prison. But if she violates the terms, she could end up serving a 20-year sentence instead.