Judge finds man who tried to sacrifice son insane

Joseph Ramirez to be sent to mental facility

SAN DIEGO - A man who said he was commanded by God to sacrifice his 8-year-old son at a cemetery in order to save the world was insane at the time of the offense, a judge ruled Thursday.

Joseph Adalberto Ramirez, 32, pleaded guilty to attempted murder earlier this month and agreed to let Superior Court Judge Leo Valentine Jr. decide whether he was insane when he used a broken piece of glass to hurt his son at Mount Hope Cemetery last year.

After reviewing three doctors' reports, the judge concurred with their unanimous findings that Ramirez was incapable of distinguishing right from wrong when he tried to kill his son.

Valentine said Ramirez appeared to be a loving and caring stay-at-home father until his psychotic episode, which started two or three days before.

"You were leading a normal life up until this time," the judge told the defendant.

Ramirez will be sent to a state hospital or mental health facility for treatment for up to 13 years or until doctors determine his sanity has been restored, said Deputy District Attorney Scott Pirrello.

Deputy Public Defender Courtney Cutter said Ramirez had no history of mental illness until his break from reality in which he thought God was calling him to sacrifice his son to save the world.

Cutter said the defendant's psychotic episode was a mystery to everyone who knew him.

She said Ramirez is eager to get treatment in hopes of regaining his sanity and one day being reunited with his family.

At an earlier hearing, Pirrello said the defendant took his family to the cemetery about 4:30 p.m. last April 28 to visit his uncle's grave. He was accompanied by his son, Daniel, his two daughters -- ages 3 and 18 months -- and their mother, Pirrello said.

A witness, Jaymisha Pires, testified that she and a friend were flagged down near the entrance to the cemetery by the children's mother, Ariana Paredes, who was screaming, "Help, he's hurting my kids."

Pires said Ramirez was holding his children in a tight bear hug near the grave site as she tried to get him to let them go.

"He said, 'They're my kids. They're going to Jesus,'" Pires said.

Paredes testified that Ramirez started acting strangely after being baptized at a church.

The morning of the incident, Ramirez first said he wanted to visit his grandfather in a convalescent home, then said he needed to visit his uncle's grave, according to Paredes.

Once at the cemetery, Ramirez had the family drink sangria and eat energy bars, calling it `The Last Supper," according to Paredes.

After he was arrested, witnesses said Ramirez said something about his grandmother being evil, according to court testimony.

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