Alleged Baltimore cult members prepare for trial in boy's death
Friday, February 12, 2010
Even by the standards of a Baltimore murder trial, the one set to start against Queen Antoinette is expected to roll out sensational details and an original cast of characters.
The focus will be the leader of the small group One Mind Ministries, which police call a cult. Queen Antoinette ordered followers to starve a 16-month-old boy in 2007 because he didn't say "Amen" at breakfast, prosecutors say in court records. After the boy died and resurrection prayers failed, two members measured him and bought a suitcase, according to prosecutors. The body was put inside, with mothballs and fabric softeners to mask the odor.
Four core members drove to Philadelphia, where they wheeled the suitcase until finding a place to stay. Then things got really strange.
The trial was scheduled to start Monday but won't begin until at least next week. Here are the defendants and possible witnesses:
-- Queen Antoinette: The 41-year-old, also known as Toni Sloan, led One Mind out of a Baltimore rowhouse. She is charged with murder, remains in jail and will represent herself.
When asked during a brief phone conversation how she was doing, she pleasantly said, "Blessed," reflecting the appeal that drew people to her. Queen Antoinette wanted to discuss her case during an in-person interview, but state prison officials denied a request from The Washington Post to inverview her in jail.
Inside the rowhouse, which had Scriptures on the walls, she led Bible studies, according to court records. One former member, Tiffany Smith, said Queen Antoinette used verses to justify smoking marijuana. Queen Antoinette also became convinced that the young boy, Javon Thompson, had developed a rebellious spirit that needed cleansing, according to court records.
-- Ria Ramkissoon: Ramkissoon, called Princess Marie by the group, is the deceased child's mother. Prosecutors think that she was brainwashed and allowed her to plead guilty to a child-abuse charge. They also promised her that they would drop the charge if Javon rises from the dead.
"She still believes that's going to happen," her attorney, Steven Silverman, said this week. But he said his client will give lucid testimony of life in the rowhouse: "She's going to give an accurate and detailed account of her time at One Mind Ministries."
-- Trevia Williams: The 22-year-old, referred to as Princess Trevia, also is charged with murder, locked in jail and representing herself. She was one of the members who measured the body, according to allegations prosecutors aired at a hearing. She also is accused of following Queen Antoinette's alleged instructions not to feed Javon.
-- Marcus Cobbs: The 23-year-old, known as Prince Marcus and facing a murder charge, joined Williams in buying the suitcase, according to prosecutors. His attorney, Maureen Rowland, said that she doesn't think he was involved with the suitcase and that he wasn't involved in causing Javon's death.
After learning of it, Prince Marcus took turns in a prayer vigil at Javon's bedside that lasted at least a week, Rowland said. "They were convinced Queen could raise the body," she said.