Graveyard Sacrifice Dad Pleads Guilty

A judge will now rule on whether Joseph Ramirez, 32, was insane when he tried to sacrifice his son at a local cemetery last April

By Monica Garske
|  Friday, Apr 5, 2013  |  Updated 5:19 PM PDT
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Women Hailed as Heroes in Cemetery Stabbing

NBCSanDiego

An officer investigates the scene of the stabbing inside Mount Hope Cemetery on April 28, 2012.

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Women Hailed as Heroes in Cemetery Stabbing

A father is accused of trying to sacrifice his 8 year-old son at Mount Hope Cemetery Saturday. Medical assistant Corey Granberry spoke with NBC 7's Chris Chan about how she and her best friend Jaymisha Pires jumped in to help.
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A father accused of attempting to sacrifice his son in a San Diego area cemetery last spring pleaded guilty to attempted murder in court on Friday.

On April 28, 2012, police say Joseph Adalberto Ramirez took his family to Mount Hope Cemetery and claimed his dead grandmother told him to sacrifice his 8-year-old son.

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.

During the bizarre cemetery incident, Ramirez was also accompanied by his two young daughters, ages three and 18 months, and their mother, Ariana Paredes, who later flagged down a witness for help.

The boy was taken to Rady Children’s Hospital and survived his injuries. Ramirez was arrested.

Since then, Ramirez, now 32 years old, has appeared in court several times, changing his plea along the way.

On May 2, 2012, he pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and child abuse. A mental competency exam was scheduled after Ramirez’s 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.

On November 16, 2012, he changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity.

In his latest court appearance on Friday, Ramirez changed his plea to guilty, admitting he injured his son and used a piece of broken glass to slash the boy’s arms.

The mother of his children, Paredes, testified in court and said Ramirez started behaving oddly after being baptized at a Christian church.

Paredes said Ramirez insisted on visiting his uncle’s grave the morning of the incident.

When they arrived at the graveyard, Paredes testified that Ramirez made the family drink sangria and eat energy bars, referring to the food as “The Last Supper.”

Witness Jaymisha Pires also testified in court.

Pires' friend, Corey Granberry told NBC 7 last spring, she and Pires were flagged down at the cemetery by Paredes.

In court, Pires testified that Paredes was screaming about Ramirez hurting her children.

Pires said Ramirez was holding on tightly to his children when she approached the family. Eventually, she was able to convince him to let the kids go.

On the stand, Pires recalled what Ramirez said during their interaction.

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

From this point, it will be up to a judge to decide if Ramirez was insane at the time of the attempted cemetery sacrifice.

If he’s found sane, Ramirez faces 13 years in prison, officials confirmed. If the judge determines Ramirez was insane at the time of the crime, he will be sent to a state mental hospital.

A sanity trial has been scheduled for April 25. Until then, Ramirez is being held at San Diego Central Jail, where his bail has been set at $2 million.

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