Man accused in newspaper shooting changes his plea
Annapolis, Md. – The man accused of killing five Maryland newspaper employees admitted in court to the crimes on Monday, while his attorney said he is maintaining his plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity.
Jarrod Ramos stood in court and repeatedly answered “that is correct” when asked by Judge Laura Ripken whether he understood he was giving up his right to the first phase of his trial to determine whether he committed the crimes.
“Yes, I am,” Ramos said, when asked if he was guilty of all 23 courts in an indictment, including first-degree murder.
Attorney Katy O’Donnell said her client is still seeking a jury trial to determine whether he is not criminally responsible by reason of insanity in connection with a shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis in 2018.
According to the state’s attorney, jury selection would start Wednesday if the judge does accept his guilty plea. A hearing to determine whether Ramos is criminally responsible would begin in November.
The 39-year-old Ramos had originally pleaded not guilty and not criminally responsible. The latter term is Maryland’s version of an insanity defense.
Employees of the newspaper who attended the hearing held hands as the attorney addressed the court.
Ramos’ plea is the latest turn in his long history with the newspaper. Before the shooting, he had been accused of harassing the Capital Gazette’s staff in connection with a defamation suit he filed against the newspaper in 2012, authorities have said. The suit was thrown out.
Authorities say Ramos stormed the newspaper office in June 2018 with a shotgun and killed John McNamara, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Gerald Fischman and Rob Hiaasen. It was one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history.
Police say they arrested Ramos after the shooting as he hid under a desk in the newsroom.
Anne Colt Leitess, the state’s attorney prosecuting the case, described in a statement of facts how Ramos gave himself up to police.
“I surrender. I surrender. I’m your shooter,” Ramos said, according to Leitess’ statement of facts, which she read in court.
Ramos, 39, had a long history of harassing the Capital Gazette’s staff in connection with a defamation suit he filed against the newspaper in 2012. The suit was thrown out. Police said Ramos was angered that the newspaper reported on his guilty plea to a misdemeanor harassment charge about a decade ago after a former high school classmate alleged he was stalking and harassing her.