Graveyard Sacrifice Dad Pleads Not Guilty by Insanity

The boy survived the attempted sacrifice and the father has been declared competent to stand trial

By R. Stickney and Monica Garske
|  Friday, Nov 16, 2012  |  Updated 4:38 PM PDT
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An officer investigates the scene of the stabbing inside Mount Hope Cemetery.

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A father accused of attempting to sacrifice his own son in a San Diego area cemetery changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity in court Friday.

Joseph Ramirez, 31, took his family to Mount Hope Cemetery on April 28 around 4:30 p.m. and told them his dead grandmother told him to sacrifice his 8-year-old son, according to San Diego police.

After Ramirez pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and child abuse, his bail was set at $2 million and a mental competency exam was scheduled after his defense attorney doubted her client's ability to understand the charges against him.

In court on Nov. 7, the judge reviewed the report, ruled Ramirez as mentally competent to stand trial and reinstated criminal proceedings.

During the investigation, officers released a report stating Ramirez had brought candles to the cemetery. One of the candles broke, and he used a piece of the broken glass to slash open his son's forearms.

Ramirez then slashed his own forearms. Ramirez was also accompanied by his two young daughters, ages three and 18 months, and their mother, who later flagged down a witness for help.

The boy survived his injuries.

A readiness conference is scheduled for Feb. 1 and his trial is set for May 1.

If convicted, Ramirez faces 13 years to life in prison.

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