A jury in Maryland on Thursday found that the man who killed five employees of the Capital Gazette newspaper is criminally responsible for the attack, rejecting his plea of insanity.
Jarrod Ramos walked into the Capital Gazette offices in June 2018 and opened fire, killing five staffers. Two others were injured.
He had already pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible in October 2019 to 23 counts, including murder, setting up the trial where a jury would be asked to determine his mental state at the time of the shooting. In Maryland, the law allows for separate proceedings within a trial to determine guilt and mental competency if a defendant is using an insanity defense. The mental competency phase is where criminal responsibility is argued.
The trial began in late June following delays for a variety of reasons, including Covid-19, the Capital Gazette reported. The jury needed less than two hours to reach its verdict.
Anne Colt Leitess, state’s attorney for Anne Arundel County and the lead prosecutor on the case, said the verdict was a “really bittersweet day” in the state capital of Annapolis, where the newspaper was based and where the case was heard.
“It’s a day of closure for the family, and that they got to hear that the person who killed their loved ones, or tried to kill them, has been held criminally responsible,” she told reporters.
John San Felice, father of Selene San Felice, who survived the shooting, spoke to reporters outside court.
“If you watched the evidence, you watched the trial, you saw that it was obvious that this man was a monster who needed to be put away permanently, and that’s what they’ve done,” he said. “We’ll all sleep better tonight knowing that people like Jarrod Ramos are off the street.”
San Felice added: “Three hard years, three hard years we’ve suffered. They put an end to our suffering.”
Reached by CNN after the verdict, Ramos’ defense team declined to comment.
Victims and family members attended parts of the trial, including Thursday, said Leitess, while also acknowledging the pain of those who did not want to be in the courtroom.
Many who were in the gallery today wore red as a statement.
“We wanted to wear red to show our solidarity with each other, with the people who helped save the survivors, with the jury and with all of you who report the news every day. Black, white and red all over,” Andrea Chamblee, whose husband John McNamara was killed in the shooting, told reporters.
Ramos faces five life sentences without the possibility of parole plus one additional life sentence for attempted murder plus lengthy sentences for gun charges.
“I fully expect that the state will be able to get at least five life-without-parole sentences in this case,” Leitess said. “This the most egregious case that our county has ever seen and probably one of the worst in the state of Maryland.”
He will be sentenced at a later date.
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