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3 years later, memorial dedicated to Capital Gazette shooting victims; trial starts for shooter

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Posted at 10:57 PM, Jun 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 09:16:40-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md (WMAR) — "This was an attack on First Amendment rights," said Winters Larca, daughter of victim Wendi Winters.

It was the largest killing of journalists in U.S. history. Monday will mark three years since the gunman opened fire in the Capital Gazette building, killing Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, Rebecca Smith, John McNamara and Wendi Winters.

"They were reporters. They were reporting on the truth. They were not enemies of the people. They were the people," said Larca.

Larca said she feels this targeted attack on free press is often forgotten but a memorial will soon serve as a permanent reminder.

It's called 'Guardians of the First Amendment' and consists of a large wall with the words of the First Amendment inscribed on it, a bronzed version of the first page of the Capital Gazette the day after the shooting and five pillars to represent each victim.

"It will inspire this community and all of its visitors to act in defense of a free and independent press and to protect and preserve our local newspaper," said County Executive Steuart Pittman.

It will be unveiled in Newman Street Park near City Dock in Annapolis Monday morning, the three-year anniversary of the shooting. Survivors, family, community leaders, and the paper’s most recent editor will speak at the dedication.

A day later, the trial for the shooter Jarrod Ramos begins. He pleaded guilty to the murders but not criminally responsible due to his mental health.

"I expect we will see something of a battle of the experts. Each side will bring in their doctors and so this is going to be in many ways a high level discussion about their diagnosis," said University of Baltimore School of Law professor David Jaros.

The jury of eight men and four women will decide if he was sane at the time of the murders.

"Some of the wrinkles here is that you have to be crazy to do something like this. Some of the jurors will say no one in their right mind does it. Well there’s a difference between being evil and being insane," said Mark Calzaretta, a jury consultant for Magna Legal Services.

The judge estimates the trial will take 10 days and says the “vast majority” will be testimony from mental health experts.