U.S. NEWS

Capital Gazette Shooter Pleads Guilty But Claims He's 'Not Criminally Responsible'

Jarrod Ramos, accused of killing five newspaper employees in June 2018, is asserting Maryland's version of an insanity defense.

The man charged with killing five Capital Gazette employees in a June 2018 shooting rampage at the newspaper’s Annapolis, Maryland, area office has pleaded guilty.

Jarrod Ramos, 39, entered the plea at Anne Arundel County Circuit Court on Monday, multiple news outlets reported. A judge must decide to accept the plea in order for it to become final.

Ramos initially pleaded both not guilty and “not criminally responsible” ― the state’s version of an insanity defense. In the new plea, he still maintains that he is not criminally responsible.

That means the next step is a hearing to evaluate whether Ramos belongs in state prison or a maximum-security psychiatric facility, the Gazette reported. To prove he is not criminally responsible, Ramos’ attorneys must demonstrate either that he did not comprehend he was committing a crime when he shot those people or that his mental state made him incapable of following the law.

Prosecutors and other law enforcement authorities have said that Ramos had a long-standing grudge against the paper, having filed a defamation suit in 2012 for its coverage of a criminal harassment charge against him the previous year. A Twitter account bearing his name regularly disparaged the outlet and its staff.

At the time of Ramos’ shooting, officials described it as a “targeted attack” on the paper. According to Bill Krampf, deputy police chief of Anne Arundel County, Ramos “looked for his victims as he walked through” the building with a shotgun.

Gerald Fischman, an editorial page editor; Rob Hiaasen, an editor and Sunday feature columnist; Rebecca Smith, a sales assistant; Wendi Winters, a local news reporter and columnist; and John McNamara, a sports reporter and editor for the company’s weekly publications, were all killed.