BALTIMORE — The mother of a 1-year-old boy who was starved to death three years ago because he did not say "Amen" testified Wednesday that she still believes the child will be resurrected.
Ria Ramkissoon, 23, took the stand at the trial of Queen Antoinette, who's accused of ordering that Ramkissoon's son not be given food or water. Ramkissoon was living with Antoinette and several other people at the time as part of what authorities described as a religious cult.
Antoinette is on trial for murder alongside her daughter, Trevia Williams, and another follower, Marcus A. Cobbs. They are representing themselves.
Ramkissoon said Antoinette told her that Ramkissoon's son, Javon Thompson, had a "spirit of rebellion" inside him and that denying him food would exorcise the evil spirit. She said she had no reason to think Antoinette was lying.
After Javon died, Antoinette told Ramkissoon to "nurture him back to life," and she stayed beside his decomposing body for weeks, even trying to give him water, Ramkissoon said.
"I still believe that my son is coming back," Ramkissoon said. "I have no problem saying what really happened because I believe he's coming back.
"Queen said God told her he would come back. I believe it. I choose to believe it," she said. "Even now, despite everything, I choose to believe it for my reasons."
Later, she acknowledged that her faith makes her sound crazy. "I don't have a problem sounding crazy in court," she said.
Ramkissoon, a native of Trinidad who stands 5 feet tall and weighs about 100 pounds, wore a white sweater and blue jeans and was calm throughout her testimony, speaking in a clear and even voice. She appeared mildly agitated at certain questions but otherwise showed little emotion, even as she described how her son wasted away.
Under cross-examination, Antoinette asked whether her statement about not feeding Javon was an order or a "suggestion."
Ramkissoon said she has consistently told prosecutors and her attorney that she was not forced to starve her son, but she made clear the idea was Antoinette's.
"When I was about to feed him," Ramkissoon said to Antoinette, "you said, 'You shouldn't feed him anything,' and then you told me why. ... I believed you."