June '19 Trial Date For Jarrod Ramos In Capital Gazette Shootings
ANNAPOLIS, MD — The trial of Jarrod Ramos, the man accused of shooting five employees at the Capital Gazette newspaper office, has been re-scheduled for June 3, 2019, from its original January date, according to reports. Ramos is charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Wendi Winters, Robert Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman, John McNamara and Rebecca Ann Smith.
Ramos appeared in court Thursday for a hearing before Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Laura Ripken, who gave the defense more time to explore a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity. His attorneys now have until Feb. 12 to enter that plea. Authorities claim Ramos harbored a grudge against the paper for years after it published a story on how he had stalked a woman.
With lead prosecutor Wes Adams’ re-election loss, the new trial date gives incoming State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess time to take the lead in prosecuting the case after she takes office in January. The change in prosecutors, plus outstanding motions and preparation for trial were cited by the judge in the new Ramos murder trial date, the Capital reports.
Ramos, of Laurel, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of first-degree murder and 18 other charges he faces in connection with the June 28 deaths of the four journalists and an advertising employee at the Annapolis newspaper. Those charges include the attempted first-degree murder of photographer Paul Gillespie, six counts of first-degree assault and 11 counts of use of a firearm in commission of a crime of violence.
Gillespie said as he was trying to escape the Capital Gazette building, he heard a gunshot. “I did feel a breeze blow past my right side,” he said, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Police say Ramos was found hiding under a desk after the deadly shooting when they took him into custody. Officials say he used a shotgun in the rampage.
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Prosecutors in the case said previously that they intend to seek a sentence of life without parole.
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According to eyewitness accounts from survivors of the June 28 shooting, Winters armed herself with the closest weapons at hand – her trash and recycling bins – and charged the shooter, shouting for him to stop. It is believed that Wendi’s actions distracted the shooter enough to enable several of her coworkers to escape, said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, in a statement.
The spark that may have ignited the shootings came on July 31, 2011, when the paper published a story by Eric Thomas Hartley, a former staff writer and columnist, that detailed how Ramos had used social media and email in a year-long barrage of threats against a former classmate that were so chilling she feared for her life. Her attorney says that even though she has moved out of state, and with Ramos now in jail, his client still fears the accused mass shooter.
Attorney Brennan McCarthy of Annapolis, who represented the woman Ramos stalked for years, said the victim moved out of Maryland because she was afraid for her life. The harassment and stalking began in 2009 after the woman friended her former classmate on Facebook. In 2011 she filed a harassment charge against Ramos, he pleaded guilty, and was given 18 months probation.
The Capital then reported on the conflict, with the headline “Jarrod Wants To Be Your Friend.”
“Mr. Ramos was obsessively angry about this particular story,” McCarthy told CBS News.
In 2012 Ramos sued The Capital for defamation, but the case was dismissed on appeal in 2015 when a judge ruled nothing in the newspaper story was false. After the story was published, the paper’s editor, Thomas Marquardt, would begin fearing for his own life and for the safety of his staff.
Ramos repotedly targeted the paper’s reporter and editors in incendiary letters and online posts.
Picture of the accused gunman Jarrod Ramos, courtesy of Anne Arundel County Police Department.