MANASSAS, Va. – A Virginia man was found guilty of capital murder Thursday for killing his 15-month-old son in 2012 to collect more than $500,000 in life insurance benefits.
Joaquin S. Rams, who has maintained his innocence, will be sentenced to life in prison.
Prince McLeod Rams died in his father's care during a court-ordered visit in October of 2012. Joaquin Rams says his son died after suffering a fever-induced seizure. On the other hand, prosecutors say Prince was either drowned or suffocated.
While Prince’s initial cause of death was ruled a drowning, it has since been changed to “undetermined.” The chief medical examiner ruled that the death is suspicious, but they could not completely rule out natural causes.
Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty in the case if Rams waived his right to a jury trial.
Judge Randy Bellows reached the guilty verdict Thursday in a 62-page opinion read inside a Prince William County court room.
The Judge concluded that Rams had financial motive to kill his son.
Rams took out three separate life insurance policies on Prince in 2011 worth more than $524,000.
“Prince did not die of natural causes, whether due to a febrile seizure or some other natural process or disease,” Bellows said in his ruling. “He did not die by accident.”
The judge went on to say the child’s death was “inflicted by the defendant.”
In fact, prosecutors say they believe Rams is responsible for the death of his mother in 2008, ruled a suicide, and the shooting death of his ex-girlfriend in 2003.
Life insurance money was involved in all three cases.