On Thursday, a jury found the gunman who killed five people in a Maryland newspaper criminally responsible for his actions, dismissing the arguments of the mental illness of defense attorneys.
The jury needed less than two hours to verify that Jarrod Ramos could understand the criminality of his actions and adjust his conduct to the requirements of the law when he attacked the editorial staff of the Gazeta de la Capital in 2018.
The verdict means Ramos, 41, will be sentenced to prison, not a maximum-security mental health center, for one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in the US. Prosecutors are asking for five life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Survivors and relatives 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.
“Having this for three years has been an endless nightmare,” said Cindi Rittenour, whose sister, Rebecca Smith, died in the attack. “And then to hear that today, just all my anxiety about it, all the wonders, the unknowns, is already gone and all I feel is just relief and happiness. I feel like my sister can finally start resting in peace. ”
Rachael Pacella, a newspaper reporter who survived the attack, said she was relieved to finally hear the verdict from criminal officials.
“It’s been very stressful in the last three years to have this hanging in my head and it looks like a significant weight has been lifted,” Pacella said outside the room.
Ramos had already pleaded guilty to 23 offenses against him in 2019, but pleaded not guilty, the Maryland version of a madness petition.
The second phase of his trial was delayed several times, most recently due to the pandemic. The 12-day trial was largely a battle between mental health experts convened by defense attorneys and prosecutors.
Ramos developed a long-standing grudge against the newspaper following an article he published about his guilty plea for harassing a former high school classmate in 2011. He filed a lawsuit against the newspaper on 2012 alleging that he was defamed, but was dismissed as unfounded. Their resources failed.
Defense attorneys argued that Ramos suffered from delusional disorder, as well as autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They claimed that Ramos was consumed with the idea that the article had ruined his life. As his defamation appeals failed, his lawyers said he came to believe that there was a major conspiracy against him involving the courts and the newspaper.
Prosecutors, however, repeatedly pointed to deficiencies in the mental health assessments conducted by the defense, which were based primarily on interviews with Ramos and his sister.
Prosecutors said Ramos acted in retaliation for the article. They said his long and meticulous planning of the attack and the manner in which he carried it out (including plans for his arrest and long imprisonment) showed that he understood the criminality of his actions and was capable of conform their conduct to the requirements of the law.
They highlighted how Ramos called 911 from the newsroom after the shooting, identified himself as a gunman and told him he had surrendered, evidence that he clearly understood the criminality of his actions. He was arrested looking down under a newsstand.
Anne Colt Leitess, Anne Arundel County State Attorney, said that while Ramos has personality disorders such as narcissism, he does not have serious mental illness that would have qualified him for not being held criminally responsible for 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 to bear, and so he began to plot his revenge.” Leitess also said Ramos was worried because the article about harassing her former classmate would hinder her ability to have dates with women.
Leitess told the jury he initially wanted to attack the building that housed the state courts of appeal, but changed his mind when he thought about police safety. Instead, it was decided by the soft purpose 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 in the newspaper’s office in a building complex in the capital of Maryland on June 28, 2018.