Criminal proceedings were suspended today for a man accused of trying to sacrifice his 8-year-old son at Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego.
Deputy Public Defender Courtney Cutter told Judge Eugenia Eyherabide that she doubted Joseph Adalberto Ramirez’s ability to understand the charges against him and assist her at trial.
The judge ordered a mental competency evaluation and set a hearing for Nov. 7.
The 31-year-old Ramirez was charged in May with premeditated attempted murder and felony child abuse.
Deputy District Attorney Scott Pirrello said that the defendant took his family to the cemetery around 4:30 p.m. on 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, the prosecutor said.
A witness, Jaymisha Pires, testified during a preliminary hearing in June 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,”’ the witness testified.
Paredes testified that Ramirez started acting strangely after being baptized at a Christian church.
Two days before the cemetery struggle, Ramirez told Paredes that he was ”very scared” and “something evil was out to get him,” she testified.
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.
Ramirez faces life in prison if convicted.