Joaquin Rams, accused of drowning son, Prince, indicted by Pr. William grand jury

A father accused of drowning his 15 1/2-month old son was indicted by a Prince William County grand jury Monday on the charge of murder.

Joaquin S. Rams, 40, had taken out more than $500,000 worth of life insurance on his son, Prince McLeod Rams, according to court documents. Prince, who had been the subject of a custody dispute between his father and mother, Hera McLeod, was rushed to the hospital on Oct. 20 after an emergency call. He died a day later.

(Associated Press/Manassas City Police Department/ ) - Joaquin Shadow Rams
  • (Associated Press/Manassas City Police Department/ ) - Joaquin Shadow Rams
  • (Courtesy photo/ ) - Prince Elias McLeod Rams

(Associated Press/Manassas City Police Department/ ) - Joaquin Shadow Rams

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The boy arrived with injuries to his face and body, and was naked, wet and cold, according to court testimony and a hospital report. Prince had a history of fever-induced seizures, and Rams told investigators, according to court papers, that he had sought to splash ice cold water onto the boy to bring down a fever.

Rams faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted, said Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul B. Ebert (D). Ebert said that he has not yet decided whether to seek a capital murder charge, for which a guilty sentence could mean the death penalty.

“When the investigation is finished, that decision will be made,” Ebert said. Asked about Rams’s defense attorney’s argument that the boy was sick and died from his illness, Ebert said: “It's going to be up to the jury to determine what they believe of that medical evidence in that regard.”

McLeod, who has spoken up for her son and on issues of parental rights, said Monday in an interview that she was “happy that the wheels of justice are turning,” and that she was “confident in the prosecution. That gives me some comfort.”

Timothy M. Olmstead, Rams’s attorney, says that the boy was sick. His death “was likely an accident, if anything else,” he told the court during a recent preliminary hearing.

A Prince William medical examiner, Constance DiAngelo, testified that water was found in Prince’s sinuses, lungs and intestines. She determined that he had drowned. DiAngelo also testified that she found bruises on the boy’s face, head, chest and back. She did not rule the death a homicide, however.

“We’re going to put together a good case and a vigorous defense as best we can,” Olmstead said Monday.

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