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Capital Gazette shooter found criminally responsible by jury

Courtroom Sketch in State of Maryland v Jarrod Ramos
Posted at 3:12 PM, Jul 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-16 15:21:50-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Following a 12 day trial, a jury took only one hour to find Jarrod Ramos criminally responsible for a deadly mass shooting at the Capital Gazette in 2018.

The attack claimed the lives of five staffers, John McNamara, Gerald Fischman, Wendi Winters, Rob Hiaasen and Rebecca Smith.

In 2019, the gunman pleaded guilty to all charges lodged against him, not criminally, but rather by insanity.

Prosecutors closed out the trial Thursday arguing the shooter loved chess and treated his life like the game, always one step ahead. He knew the Capital Gazette staffers would try the back door so he blocked it. He knew the police would be there in minutes so he brought smoke bombs and placed his backpack in the hallway to make it look like a bomb to slow them down. He picked a Thursday during the community board meeting to kill as many people as possible.

Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said merely having a mental disorder, does not you get to not criminally responsible. They could have 100 experts debate what’s wrong with him but it doesn’t matter, the evidence showed he is criminally responsible.

Leitess said it’s not about morally wrong or emotionally wrong, it’s criminally wrong. Even the defense’s expert said he knew what he was doing a illegal. He called 911 immediately after the shooting to alert the police that the shooting was over. She said that alone shows he appreciates the criminality.

Defense attorney Katy O’Donnell countered by questioning, “What drove his behavior? Why did he kill innocent people who never hurt him?”

She said “you can’t make sense of it,” because he was delusional and mentally ill.

The defense has 10 days to appeal, before sentencing takes place in about eight weeks.

Below, read a full statement released by Leitess following the verdict.

Just moments ago, a jury found Jarrod Ramos criminally responsible for murdering John McNamara, Rob Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman, Wendi Winters and Rebecca Smith – our Guardians of the First Amendment.

It’s been more than three years since Jarrod Ramos intentionally and methodically entered the Capital Gazette suite located at 888 Bestgate Road and executed a revengeful act against innocent victims. In a matter of minutes, he robbed the families of more hugs and kisses and friends of more priceless moments but most importantly, each and every one of them of more time. Their lost will forever impact our community but their words and legacy will always remain.

To John, Rob, Gerald, Wendi and Rebecca, we thank you for your bravery, trust and commitment to our community. You will never be forgotten.

I would like to thank my co-counsel David Russell for his contributions to this verdict, the State’s Attorney's Office for their support, Anne Arundel County Police Department, Anne Arundel County Fire Department, Anne Arundel County Sheriff's Department, Annapolis Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Dr. Gregory Saathoff, doctors from Maryland Department of Health but most importantly I would like to thank the loved ones of the victims and the survivors for trusting me in seeking justice for their family and friends."

Click here for our full coverage of the trial.