A Virginia man has been found guilty of murdering his 15-month-old son after taking out life insurance policies totalling $500,000 (£400,000).

Judge Randy Bellows said that Joaquin Shadow Rams had planned to kill his son, Prince Mcleod Rams, since he was born, taking out life insurance policies when the baby was just 2 months old, the Associated Press reported. Prince died in October 2012.

Rams was given unsupervised visits with his son earlier in 2012 even though the boy's mother opposed it. He soon learned that his son was having fever-induced seizures. The judge said that learning of the seizures "gave the defendant his alibi, his way to justify how Prince came to die in his care".

During his fourth unsupervised visit the boy died. An initial autopsy said that Prince had drowned but Virginia chief medical examiner William Gormley later said that the cause of death was unknown.

Rams said that Prince had a seizure and stopped breathing, but medical experts told the court that the seizures are not uncommon for children of the same age as Prince and that they were not usually fatal.

Rams will now get a prison sentence after the prosecution waived the right for a jury trial in return for exemption from the death penalty. His lawyers said that he would appeal.

The child's death is also similar to the deaths of others linked to Rams. His mother and ex-girlfriend both died from unnatural causes before Rams attempted to cash out life insurance policies, succeeding in collecting $150,000 in his mother's case.

The boy's mother said that she was relieved at the verdict but said that Rams should have been locked away after his ex-girlfriend was shot in 2003. "It's sad my son had to be the one who put him away," she added.