Man killed 15-month-old son for life insurance money

A Virginia man was found guilty of capital murder in the death of his baby son, who officials said he plotted to kill from nearly the time he was born to get a life insurance payout.

Joaquin Shadow Rams will be sentenced to life in prison for the 2012 killing of 15-month-old Prince McLeod Rams, Judge Randy Bellows ruled Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

On October 20, 2012, Rams called 911 saying his son had a seizure and had stopped breathing.

Efforts to revive Prince were unsuccessful and he was declared dead the next day.

Rams claimed his son died after suffering a fever-induced seizure, but prosecutors contended that Prince was either drowned or suffocated, and noted that the kind of seizures he had actually been suffering from are not fatal, the AP reported.

Bellows concluded that the seizures the child had been experiencing simply “gave the defendant his alibi, his way to justify how Prince came to die in his care.”

He also concluded that Rams planned to kill his son ever since he took out life insurance policies totaling more than $500,000 in September 2011 — just two months after the child was born.

It was the fourth time the little boy had been alone with Rams since a civil judge that summer granted him unsupervised visits over the objection of Prince’s mother, Hera McLeod, the AP reported.

McLeod left Rams when Prince was about two weeks old and reportedly feared for the safety of her son if left with her ex-fiancé. 

“It’s sad that my son had to be the one who put him away,” McLeod told the AP after the conviction.

Prince’s passing was the last in a series of deaths of those close to Rams, officials said.

His ex-girlfriend, Shawn Mason, was shot and killed in 2003, while his mother, Alma Collins, died in 2008 in what was initially ruled a suicide.

Rams collected a payout of more than $150,000 following the death of his mother, authorities said.

Prosecutor Paul Ebert told the AP that Rams is a suspect in both of those cases, and authorities will later decide whether to bring charges.

Joseph Velez, Collins’ son and the half-brother of Rams, reportedly said he wants justice in his mother’s death.

“My heart’s dancing that we finally got some justice, but my mother did not kill herself,” he said.

Rams showed no visible reaction when the verdict was announced, according to the AP. He waived his right to a jury trial in exchange for prosecutors’ vow to not pursue the death penalty.

His attorneys said they plan to appeal the conviction but declined to comment further.