BALTIMORE (AP) - The leader of a household that authorities described as a religious cult was convicted Tuesday along with two other people of starving a 1-year-old boy to death because he did not say "Amen" during a mealtime prayer.
Jurors convicted the leader, Queen Antoinette, 41, of
second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in the death of Javon Thompson, who was 15 or 16 months old when he died in December 2006 or January 2007.
Antoinette's daughter, Trevia Williams, 22, and another
follower, Marcus A. Cobbs, 23, were also found guilty of
second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death. Cobbs was also convicted of accessory after the fact.
The defendants face up to 60 years in prison when they are
sentenced May 18.
Javon wasted away before the eight-person household, according to testimony. His heart stopped beating after a week or more without food, his mother, Ria Ramkissoon, testified.
After Javon died, according to witnesses, Antoinette told her
followers to pray for his resurrection and ordered Ramkissoon to "nurture him back to life." Ramkissoon testified that she still believes Javon will rise from the dead, saying she didn't care if it makes her sound crazy.
Ramkissoon said she stayed with Javon's body for weeks after he died, talking to him, dancing for him, even trying to give him water. Ultimately, according to testimony, the group members stashed Javon's body in a suitcase and relocated to Philadelphia, where they stayed briefly with an elderly man. The suitcase was stored in a shed behind the man's home for more than a year.