Va. Father Accused of Capital Murder Needs Lawyer

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013  |  Updated 1:24 PM EDT
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Va. Father Accused of Capital Murder Needs Lawyer

Joaquin Rams

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A judge has again delayed a decision on who will represent a Manassas man facing capital murder charges in the death of his 15-month-old son.

Authorities accuse Joaquin Shadow Rams, 41, of drowning his son, Prince McLeod Rams, to collect a life insurance policy.

Rams' first attorney, Timothy Olmstead, became ineligible to represent him when prosecutors upgraded the charges to capital murder. Olmstead is not certified to try death-penalty cases.

At a hearing Tuesday in Prince William County Circuit Court, a judge declined to appoint a public defender, Edward Ungvarsky, after he said he was too busy to take the case.

Rams has also complained about having the public defender appointed. At a hearing last month, the judge delayed appointing an attorney after Rams requested attorney Mark Petrovich, one of the attorneys who represented Lee Boyd Malvo, the teenager in the D.C. sniper case who is currently serving life in prison.

In a subsequent motion Rams filed on his own, he said he does not trust the public defender and "it is obvious that there is no ability to cooperate regarding my defense.''

While Judge Craig Johnston, declined to appoint Ungvarsky, he also declined to appoint Petrovich and his law partner, Thomas Walsh, saying indigent clients cannot pick their own counsel.

Another hearing was scheduled for Monday to settle the issue. Johnston said he will follow standard procedure in picking an attorney from a list of qualified capital lawyers. He did not rule out appointing Petrovich and Walsh through that process.

Petrovich, who was at Tuesday's hearing along with Walsh, said he is available to take the case but made it clear he is not lobbying to do so.

Authorities are also investigating the deaths of Rams' ex-girlfriend in 2003 and his mother in 2008.

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