Capital Gazette gunman Jarrod Ramos is found criminally responsible for the 2018 newsroom massacre that left five people dead after a jury swiftly rejected his insanity plea on Thursday
Prosecutors in Anne Arundel County are seek five life sentences without parole after Jarrod Ramos, 41, was found criminally responsible for the 2018 massacre
Prosecutors proved that based on his meticulous planning, Ramos understood the criminality of his actions and was not insane at the time of the attack
Ramos already pled guilty to all 23 counts against him in 2019, but was attempting to avoid jail time based on diminished mental capacity
Six survivors of the shooting testifying at Ramos’ trial on described seeing colleagues shot to death, shotgun blasts and the sounds of shells reloading as they hid in the Capitol Gazette newsroom on June 18, 2018
Assistant editor Rob Hiaasen, 59, was killed along with editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, 61, Staff writer John McNamara, 56, head of special publications Wendi Winters, 65, and sales assistant Rebecca Smith, 34 in the mass shooting
A man from Laurel, Maryland who shot dead several staffers at Capital Gazette in Annapolis has been found criminally responsible for killing five people when he opened fire inside the newspaper’s newsroom in mid-2018.
A jury on Thursday found the gunman, 41-year-old Jarrod Ramos had the mental and emotional capacity to be held responsible for the mass shooting on June 28, 2018 in Annapolis, Maryland.
Ramos has been detained at the Anne Arundel County jail since the killings and faces life in prison.
Ramos’ public defenders requested a sanity trial in an attempt to have him committed to a maximum-security psychiatric hospital instead of going to prison.
His attorneys had argued that he could not be held criminally responsible for the mass shooting due to mental disorders which did not allow him the capacity to comprehend him crimes.
Countering, the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney, Anne Colt Leitess, explained that Ramos’ meticulously calculated actions proved that he knew and understood exactly what he was doing as well a the consequences of his actions.
The calculating gunman chose the specific date for his mass shooting because there were supposed to be many people in the newsroom that day.
Ramos blocked the exits to trap his victims and set decoys for law enforcement to slow their response, called 911 once his killing spree was done, and made sure he was no longer armed and laid on the floor until police arrived so they wouldn’t shoot him.
Furthermore, Ramos also bought a lifetime membership to a chess club in the days leading up to the attack so he could play in prison.
Last week survivors of the mass shooting described the terror of hiding for their lives under desks in their newsroom.
Six people who were inside the Capital Gazette newsroom during the shooting were among the first called by prosecutors trying to prove to a jury that Ramos understood the criminality of his actions and was not insane at the time of the long-planned attack.
The sight of a shot colleague, the near miss of a shotgun blast, the passing flashlight at the end of the gunman’s weapon and the sounds of shells reloading were part of the survivors’ accounts of the attack that lasted only minutes but left five dead.
‘I was waiting to die, and so I was praying,’ said Selene San Felice, who was a reporter at the paper.
She recalled watching her colleague John McNamara get hit by a shotgun blast while she was hiding under a desk with intern Anthony Messenger.
McNamara was killed along with Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Gerald Fischman and Rob Hiaasen.
‘Once John got shot, I thought we were going to die,’ Messenger testified.
Paul Gillespie, a photographer, said he heard shotgun pellets breeze by after Ramos fired at him, just before he ran out of the newsroom to safety.
Janel Cooley, an advertising sales representative, testified to hearing a loud explosion as Ramos blasted through the entrance, shaking the whole office.
Cooley testified to seeing Winters charge Ramos with a trash can in one hand and a recycling bin in the other before he shot her and kept moving through the newsroom.
‘He was walking very purposefully, very methodically,’ Cooley said.
Rachael Pacella, a reporter at the newspaper, described hiding under her desk at first, but as the gunshots moved closer she decided to run out a back door – which Ramos had blocked earlier with a device to trap employees inside.
She tripped, banged her head on a door and hid between file cabinets, where she could see the flashlight from Ramos´ shotgun just feet away as he passed.
Phil Davis, who was a reporter at the paper, described hearing Ramos reload near where he hid under a desk.
During the trial on Friday, a model of the former Capital Gazette newspaper office was also displayed as survivors showed jurors where they were in the newsroom at the time of the attack.
Prosecutors also called insurance agent Keith Cyphers, who worked across the hallway from the office, to testify, the Capital Gazette reported on Friday.
Cyphers recalled seeing Ramos enter the newsroom and called the police as the gunshots rang out.
Prosecutors played the audio from his 911 call in the courtroom on Friday.
Anne Arundel County Police corporal Ryan McGeeney, one of the first officers to arrive at the scene and told the court Friday how he rushed through the lobby of the office building ‘where people were unaware of the horrors happening down the hallway,’ the Capital Gazette reported.
He recalled crossing the lobby with four other officers and the chaos of shattered glass and a body – which is when he realized the 911 call for an active shooter had been real.
Responding officers were seen on bodycam footage entering a hallway filled with smoke – which Ramos’ lawyers said was caused by a smoke grenade he detonated to deter cops.
In total, 16 witnesses were called before the jury on Friday, WMAR reported.
Ramos already pled guilty to all 23 counts against him in 2019, but was attempting to avoid jail time due to his mental health. The defense
The defense, which went first in presenting its case arguing that Jarrod Ramos is not criminally responsible — Maryland’s version of an insanity case. They had the burden of proof by a ‘preponderance of the evidence.’ In essence trying to show that it was more likely than not that Ramos was not criminally responsible.
Several years before the deadly mass shooting Jarrod Ramos of Laurel, Maryland, repeatedly filed unsuccessful lawsuits and appeals against the paper and some of its workers. The defendant had a grievance with the paper after they wrote about a harassment case he was involved in.
The unsuccessful lawsuits went on for at least six years before the shooting that killed Fischman, Hiaasen, McNamara, Smith and Winters. In one court filing, Ramos wrote, “You’ve crippled my life for a year and now I am going to cripple your company forever.”
That presumed catalyst for his meltdown, the 2012 lawsuit, which alleged that the paper defamed him, was dismissed as groundless.
Defense attorneys argued Ramos suffered from a paranoid delusion in which the newspaper and the courts conspired to block his efforts to restore his reputation after the publication of a 2011 article about him pleading guilty to a harassment charge against a former high school classmate.
His appeals failed.
Before the defense had rested its case on Thursday, Ramos’ attorneys presented renowned psychiatrist Dr. Dorothy Lewis as a witness, WJZ reported.
Lewis testified that Ramos’ cat was his only significant relationship and that he called the cat his ‘fur wife,’ and that he had carried out the shooting when the cat died.
‘I think it was that relationship that tied him a little bit to reality,’ Dr. Lewis said.
Lilly Price, a reporter for the Capital Gazette, tweeted that defense attorneys said Ramos ‘laid on the couch for two weeks with his cat without getting up and would pee in bottles.’
‘Prosecutors, while questioning Lewis, presented an email Ramos sent his vet describing getting up from bed with the cat to brush his teeth and eat,’ she tweeted.
Leitess said in her opening statement on Thursday that while Ramos has personality disorders like narcissism, he does not have serious mental illness that qualifies him to be found not criminally responsible for five murders.
‘He has issues with his personality,’ Leitess told the jury, according to WJLA.
‘They are things that make him eccentric or odd — not things that make him insane.’
She contends Ramos attacked the paper out of revenge for the article.