The Maryland man charged in the Capital Gazette newspaper shooting that left five staff members dead has entered a plea of not criminally responsible to all charges in the case, citing a “mental disorder” that prevented him from conforming to the law.
Public defenders representing Jarrod Ramos did not detail the nature of the mental-health issues they believe are involved but said that he “lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct,” according to court filings submitted Monday in Anne Arundel County.
The plea comes after attorneys have spent months sparring over whether prosecutors have provided the defense team enough details about the 23 counts Ramos faces.
Ramos, 39, of Laurel, has been charged with first-degree murder and other offenses in the June 28 mass shooting.
Police say Ramos blasted through the doors of the newspaper’s office in the Annapolis area with a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun, killing five: editorial editor Gerald Fischman, 61; assistant editor Rob Hiaasen, 59; sportswriter, reporter and editor John McNamara, 56; sales assistant Rebecca Smith, 34; and reporter Wendi Winters, 65.
Ramos planned the attack — in which he barricaded the office’s back doors and employed smoke grenades — in the midst of a long-standing grudge with the daily newspaper, prosecutors allege. Ramos began threatening the Gazette in letters and on social media after it published a column about him pleading guilty to harassing a former high school classmate through social media, police and prosecutors said.
Ramos’s trial is scheduled to begin in November and is expected to last two weeks.