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.
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.