Attorneys prosecuting accused Capital Gazette newsroom shooter Jarrod Ramos will not be sanctioned after an Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge rejected defense claims that the state failed to turn over possible evidence in the case.

The defense had asked the judge to sanction and possibly force Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess to recuse herself from the case, saying prosecutors did not share certain materials detailing law enforcement’s investigation of Ramos’s interactions with the newspaper and local attorneys years before the shooting.

Leitess said her office has turned over all material that it had, as well as material from the police department, and has gone “above and beyond” in providing defense discovery materials.

AD

Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Laura S. Ripken rejected the defense motion for sanctions at a pretrial hearing Friday. Ripken said prosecutors exercised “due diligence” and had not committed any discovery violations.

AD

Ramos, 39, has pleaded not criminally responsible in the June 28, 2018, shooting at the newspaper offices, which killed five: editorial page 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.

His trial is set to begin Nov. 4.

Ramos’s public defenders have argued that a “mental disorder” prevented him from following the law, but prosecutors say he plotted the shooting at the newspaper’s office to settle a long-standing grudge after the Capital published a column about his guilty plea in the harassment of his former high school classmate.

AD

The materials that the defense team said prosecutors failed to turn over include information from a 2013 investigation of complaints that Ramos had threatened newspaper staff and others involved in his losing defamation case he filed against the newspaper after the column about his harassment case was published.

AD

“The state has failed to meet or exercise due diligence,” said Katy O’Donnell, one of Ramos’s three public defenders.

Leitess countered that materials sought by the defense either didn’t exist in law enforcement records or had already been provided in a different form.

The 2013 messages Ramos sent to lawyers and the newspaper, which prompted the complaints to law enforcement , were threatening and rude but did not constitute a crime, Leitess said. Moreover, newspaper officials had said they didn’t want to press charges against Ramos, fearing it would further incite him, she said.

AD

Threats that Ramos made on social media against the Capital Gazette and lawyers involved in the defamation suit he filed were part of a strategy of intimidation and harassment, prosecutors said.

At an earlier pretrial hearing, Leitess said Ramos reportedly told his sister, “I want them to think I’m crazy,” after she asked him why he posted intimidating and harassing messages on Twitter.

AD

In other pretrial activity, attorneys for both sides are in the process of developing questions to be asked of potential jurors during the three-day selection process set to start Oct. 30.

The judge said Friday that 322 potential jurors have filled out questionnaires as part of a preliminary screening process to streamline jury selection. Potential jurors were required to come to the courthouse in late September to fill out the questionnaire.

AD

Jurors will be questioned as a group during jury selection at the end of the month, and depending on how they respond to individual questions, they will be interviewed individually by the judge and attorneys from both sides.