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Maryland man who shot and killed five staffers at Capital Gazette newspaper pleads guilty to five counts of murder

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Jarrod Ramos 1Hearings commenced Monday to determine whether Jarrod Ramos, the gunman who killed Capital Gazette newspapers in Baltimore, moves on to hearings to determine whether he will be locked up in a state prison or committed to Maryland’s maximum-security psychiatric hospital. He had been charged with five counts of first-degree murder

Despite his intention to plead guilty to murdering five employees of the Capital Gazette newspapers, the alleged gunman, Jarrod W. Ramos moves on to hearings to determine whether he will be incarcerated at a state prison or committed to Maryland’s maximum-security psychiatric hospital.

Jarrod Ramos previously pled guilty in Anne Arundel Circuit Court to shooting the shooting deaths of Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, Rebecca Smith, Wendi Winters and John McNamara in the Annapolis newsroom in June 2018.
Now, a judge or jury is to decide where the 39-year-old Laurel man serves his time.
Tragedy struck when Ramos shot up The Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland on June 28, 2018 that killing five employees: Wendi Winters, a features reporter; Rob Hiaasen, the assistant managing editor; Gerald Fischman, an editorial page editor; John McNamara, a reporter; and Rebecca Smith, a sales assistant.
Ramos, who was the subject of a 2011 article in The Capital, had embarked on an escalating one-sided feud against the paper. He had been sending threats to the news organization for a number of years before the shooting.
Jarrod W. Ramos, was arrested after he was found hiding under a desk in the newsroom when the shooting stopped. he was ultimately charged with five counts of first-degree murder, assault and other violations.

Wendi Winters 1.JPGVictim: Features reporter Wendi Winters
Robert Hiaasen 1.JPGVictim: Assistant managing editor Robert Hiaasen

Defense team revealed that Ramos from Laurel, Maryland is expected to plead guilty Monday to killing five Capital Gazette employees in a mass shooting at the office on June 28, 2018.
Police say Jarrod W. Ramos, 39, blasted his way into the Annapolis office with a pump-action shotgun, fatally shooting John McNamara, Gerald Fischman, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith and Rob Hiaasen.
Six other employees who were present during the mass shooting survived. Two of the six were injured.
The Capital Gazette is owned by Baltimore Sun Media.
Ramos intends to plead guilty to all 23 counts he’s charged with in the case, his defense attorney said – Once a guilty plea is entered, for the plea agreement to become official, Circuit Court Judge Laura Ripken has to accept it.
Shortly after the attack, Ramos pled not guilty and on April 29 entered Maryland’s version of the insanity plea.
At his request, Judge Ripken ordered the trial split into two phases: one to address whether Ramos committed the crime, a second to address whether he was insane at the time he committed the offenses.

Mourners for Maryland Capital five.JPGMourners gathered at the memorials and funerals after Jarrod Ramos shot up The Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland on June 28, 2018, killing five employees

With his culpability established, the focus of the case shifts to whether the defendant is legally responsible for the crimes, with the onus on the defense to prove Ramos was insane at the time he launched the attack.
Maryland’s standard says that to be found legally insane it must be proven that the defendant at the time of the offense, because of a mental disorder or defect, could not understand what they did was wrong or could not stop themselves from doing it.
For the second phase of his murder trial, Ramos has requested a jury trial for

It has been suggested that the prior  guilty plea could be a strategic move to downplay the “horrific nature of the acts [Ramos] committed”.

 

John McNamara 1.JPGVictim: Editor John McNamara was one of the journalists killed by shooter Jarrod Ramos on June 28, 2018 
Gerald Fischman 1.JPGEditorial writer Gerald Fischman, was one of the victims of the June 28, 2018 mass shooting in Annapolis at the Capital Gazette

Ramos’ intended guilty plea follows more than one year of pretrial hearings and various delays, where prosecutors and defense attorneys argued about what evidence and witnesses would be allowed at trial. Ripken ruled to allow what prosecutors described as damning security footage that shows Ramos working the pump on his shotgun, “methodically hunting,” as employees hid or fled for their lives.

While the defense attorneys argued that the footage is prejudicial, prosecutors said the video showed Ramos checking the flashlight and laser on his tactical shotgun and barricading the backdoor of the office, trapping staffers trying to flee gunfire.
Before her ruling Judge Ripken noted that “certainly it’s prejudicial,” adding “But in this case, I do not find it is unfairly prejudicial.” she said.

Rebecca Smith 1.JPGThe youngest victim was Ad sales assistant, Rebecca Smith

 

Forensic doctors with the Maryland Department of Health evaluated Ramos and believed he was legally sane when he committed the alleged crimes. Mental health experts hired by Ramos’ team of public defenders reached a different conclusion, setting the stage for a contested second-phase of trial.

The shooting shook the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County community, as citizens came out in droves to memorial services, vigils and concerts arranged to honor the victims. Employees made sure the newspaper didn’t miss an edition and saw the paper draw national attention for continuing its mission in the wake of tragedy.

Prosecutors indicated early on they were seeking five life sentences without the possibility of parole for Ramos.
That Ramos has a history of threats and harassment, and yet still was able to purchase firearms, prompted Maria Hiaasen to channel at least some of her grief into speaking out on behalf of advocacy groups such as the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

“In the frustration of losing Rob, I felt this need to do something,” she said. “I can’t spin the clock back in time, but I can do this one thing.”

The sorrow and anger over the shooting quickly rippled through Annapolis and beyond. Vigils, marches and a concert were organized, and funds to benefit the families and establish a scholarship had collected close to $2 million as the year ended. There were also gifts of time: Dozens of journalists from across the country, some of whom are alumni of either the Capital Gazette papers or others also owned by its parent company, The Baltimore Sun Media Group, spent a week or two reporting and editing for the decimated newsroom. And the Newseum in Washington last month opened an exhibit featuring artifacts from the shooting and its aftermath.

 

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