Former Cult Member Receives Reduced Sentence For Starving Her Son

Ria Ramkissoon, a young mother from Baltimore, has been charged with starving her son to death in late 2006. She has agreed to withdraw her guilty plea if the child rises from the dead.

Ramkissoon believes that her infant son will be resurrected, and has asked the court to dismiss her plea when her son returns to speak for himself. "I have never seen anything like this in a plea agreement," said Steve Silverman, the attorney representing Ramkissoon. Silverman has argued that Ramkissoon was brainwashed by the religious group One Mind Ministries, of which she was a devoted member.

Ramkissoon has agreed to testify against the four other members of the group allegedly involved in her son's death, including the group leader, who goes by Queen Antoinette. In accordance with the deal, Ramkissoon's charge has been reduced to child abuse resulting in death, while the other three members will be charged with first-degree murder. Javon Newton, Ramkissoon's son, died away after being deprived of food and water because he refused to say "amen" after meals.

Seeta Newton, Ramkissoon's mother, says that Ramkissoon joined the group in April 2006, and immediately moved in with the other members, bringing her 7-month-old son Javon with her. Only days after she had left their home, Newton went to visit her daughter, and found that her daughter had undergone a "total change." Newton had her son visit the group home to find out whether Ramkissoon was safe:

According to Newton, owning cell phones and discussing their families were prohibited. They were required to dress in blue and white, the colors of royalty, she said. Members' names were also changed to include the title "queen" or "princess."

Court documents reveal that the woman going by Queen Antoinette told Ramkissoon that her son was a "demon" and helped to discard the boy's body in a suitcase in Philadelphia, where it was later found by authorities.

Ramkissoon's deal stipulates that she must undergo psychiatric treatment, or "deprogramming." She will also receive a suspended 20 year sentence and serve five years probation. Steve Hassan, a licensed counselor and expert on dealing with cult members, says that Ramkissoon may need up to a year of treatment before she "snaps." Hassan, who does not work with Ramkissoon, says that "snapping" is the term used to describe the moment in which the former cult member realizes that they have been programmed. Silverman is pleased with the deal he struck for Ramkissoon, and believes that his client was truly under the sway of Queen Antoinette. "I think people, including the prosecutors in this case, understand Ramkissoon was a victim of this as well," he said.

Charged Sect Mom Believes Son Will Come Back From Dead [ABC News]