The Washington Post

Prince William man charged with murder in son’s death

A man accused of drowning his 15-month-old son was indicted on a murder charge last week, and his trial will begin Aug. 5.

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

Prince arrived at the hospital 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 that he had splashed ice water on the boy to bring down a fever, according to documents.

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

“When the investigation is finished, that decision will be made,” Ebert said.

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, said during a recent preliminary hearing that Prince was sick and that his death “was likely an accident.”

“It’s going to be up to the jury to determine what they believe of that medical evidence in that regard,” Ebert said.

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 last week.

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