A jury found Thursday the gunman who killed five people in a Maryland newspaper who is guilty of his actions, denying the mental illness arguments of defense attorneys.
The jury needed less than two hours to find that Jarrod Ramos could understand the criminality of his actions and comply with his conduct to the requirements of the law when he attacked the editorial staff of the Capital Gazette in 2018.
The verdict means that Ramos, 41, will be sentenced to prison, not to a maximum-security mental health facility, for one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in the United States. Prosecutors are seeking five life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Survivors and family members of the victims, some with tears in their eyes, hugged each other outside the courtroom and applauded prosecutors and jurors as they passed after the verdict.
“After being there three years ago, it was an endless nightmare,” said Cindi Rittenour, whose sister, Rebecca Smith, died in the attack. “And then feeling that today – just all my anxiety for him, all the wonders, the ignorance, it’s all gone now, and all I feel is just relief and happiness. It seems to me that my sister can finally start to rest. in peace “.
Rachael Pacella, a newspaper reporter who survived the attack, said she was relieved to finally hear the verdict of the responsible criminal.
“It’s been very stressful these past three years having this hanging over our heads, and it feels like a bigger weight has been lifted,” Pacella said outside the courtroom.
Ramos has already pleaded guilty to all 23 charges against him in 2019, but has not pleaded guilty – criminal to Maryland’s version of an insanity charge.
The second phase of its process has been delayed several times, most recently due to the pandemic. The 12-day trial was largely a battle between mental health experts called in by defense attorneys and prosecutors.
Ramos has developed a long-standing resentment against the newspaper following an article published on his guilty plea for a felony charge of molesting a former high school classmate in 2011. He filed a lawsuit against the newspaper in 2012, accusing him of being defamed, but was fired as unfounded. His appeals failed.
Defense attorneys have argued that Ramos suffered from a delusional disorder, in addition to autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They say Ramos was consumed with the idea that the article had ruined his life. As his defamation appeals failed, his lawyers said he had come to believe that there was a vast conspiracy against him involving the courts and the newspaper.
Prosecutors, however, have repeatedly pointed to deficiencies in the mental health assessments made by the defense, which were based primarily on interviews with Ramos and his sister.
Prosecutors said Ramos acted in revenge for the article. They say his long and meticulous planning for the attack and the way in which he carried it out – including arrest and long-term incarceration plans – proved he understood the criminality of his actions and was able to comply with their behavior with the requirements of the law.
They emphasized how Ramos called 911 from the newsroom after the shooting, identified himself as the gunman and told him to surrender – evidence that he clearly understood the criminality of his actions. He was arrested while standing in front of a press desk.
Anne Colt Leitess, Arne Arundel’s state attorney, said that even though Ramos has personality disorders such as narcissism, he does not have serious mental illnesses that would have qualified him for not being found not guilty. of five murders.
Leitess told the jury that Ramos thought he was smarter than everyone else, and that his repeated losses in court were “too much for him to bear, and so he began to plan his revenge.” Leitess also said Ramos was worried that the article about him harassing his former schoolmate would hinder his ability to go out with women.
Leitess told the jury he initially wanted to attack the building that houses the state appeals courts, but changed his mind when he thought about police security. Instead, he decided on the sweet goal of the newspaper.
The trial began last month, three years and a day after the attack that killed Wendi Winters, John McNamara, Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen and Smith at the newspaper’s office in a building complex in the U.S. capital. in Maryland on June 28, 2018.