On Thursday, a jury found that the gunman had killed five people in a newspaper in Maryland and was criminally responsible for his actions and rejected the defense lawyer’s mental illness argument.
It took less than two hours for the jury to determine that Jarrod Ramos was able to understand the criminal behavior of his actions when he attacked the Capital Gazette’s newsroom in 2018 and made his actions comply with the legal requirements.
The verdict means that Ramos, 41, will be sentenced to jail instead of the highest security mental health institution, because this is one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in the United States. Prosecutors are seeking five life sentences without the possibility of parole.
The survivors and the families of the victims, some with tears in their eyes, hugged outside the court, and the prosecutors and jurors who passed by after the sentence was applauded.
“This situation lasted for three years and it was a never-ending nightmare,” said Cindi Rittenour, whose sister Rebecca Smith was killed in the attack. “Then I heard this sentence today-all my anxiety, all doubts, everything unknown, are now gone, all I feel is relief and happiness. I think my sister can finally start to rest in peace.”
The newspaper reporter Rachael Pacella, who survived the attack, said that she finally heard the sentence of criminal responsibility and was relieved.
“In the past three years, this matter has been hanging on our heads, and there is a lot of pressure, and it feels like it has lifted a great burden,” Pasella said outside the court.
Ramos has pleaded guilty to all 23 charges against him in 2019, but he is not criminally responsible-Maryland pleaded guilty to insanity.
His second phase trial was postponed many times, most recently because of a pandemic. The 12-day trial is mainly a contest between defense lawyers and mental health experts convened by prosecutors.
After Ramos published an article in the newspaper, after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor of harassing a former high school classmate in 2011, he developed a long-term resentment against the newspaper. He filed a lawsuit against the newspaper in 2012, claiming that he was slandered, but was denounced as baseless. His appeal failed.
The defense lawyer argued that Ramos suffers from delusions, autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They argued that Ramos was swallowed by the idea that this article ruined his life. As his defamation appeal failed, his lawyer said he began to believe that there was a huge conspiracy involving the courts and newspapers.
However, prosecutors have repeatedly pointed out that the defense’s mental health assessments are flawed, and these assessments mainly rely on interviews with Ramos and his sister.
The prosecutor said that Ramos was acting in retaliation for this article. They said that his long-term and detailed plan for the attack and the way he implemented it—including plans for arrest and long-term imprisonment—proved that he understood his criminal behavior and was able to make his behavior comply with legal requirements.
They emphasized how Ramos dialed 911 from the newsroom after the shooting, indicating that he was the gunman and told him that he had surrendered-evidence that he clearly understood the criminal behavior of his actions. He was arrested face down under the desk in the newsroom.
Anne Colt Leitess, the state attorney of Anne Arundel County, said that although Ramos suffers from personality disorders such as narcissism, he does not have a serious mental illness, so he can be considered Not criminally responsible for the five murders.
Wrights told the jury that Ramos thought he was smarter than everyone else, and that his multiple failures in court “made him unbearable, so he started planning revenge.” Wrights also said that Ramos was worried that articles about his harassment of former classmates would hinder his ability to date women.
Wrights told the jury that he initially wanted to attack the building where the State Court of Appeals was located, but when he thought about the security of the police, he changed his mind. Instead, he determined the soft goals of the newspaper.
The trial began last month, on June 28, 2018, the killing of Wendy Winters, John McNamara, Gerald Fishman, and a newspaper office in a building complex in the capital of Maryland. Three years and a day after the Rob Hiathon and Smith attacks.