Jarrod Ramos, accused of killing five people in a shooting rampage at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Md., admitted that he committed the offenses, setting the stage for a jury to decide whether Ramos was so mentally ill at the time that he should not be held legally culpable, the Washington Post reports. Ramos, 39, who bore a long-simmering grudge against the paper, acknowledged in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court that he was the shotgun-wielding attacker who blasted through doors at the paper on June 28, 2018, and methodically opened fire on employees. Four journalists and a sales assistant were slain in what authorities called an act of vengeance by Ramos, who lost a defamation lawsuit against the paper after it published a column about his guilty plea to harassing a former high school classmate.
Judge Laura Ripken scheduled the start of jury selection for Wednesday in the next phase of the case, in which Ramos’s attorneys will argue that he is not criminally responsible for the shooting and should be committed to a mental hospital instead of prison. In Maryland, a defendant is entitled to an insanity acquittal if he proves that at the time of the offense, as a result of a mental disorder, he lacked “substantial capacity to appreciate” the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law.
If Ramos succeeded, he would be confined to a psychiatric institution for treatment and eventually would be eligible for release if it were decided he was not likely to pose a danger to the public. In court Monday, as survivors of the shooting and loved ones of the dead looked on, Ramos listened for an hour as prosecutor Anne Colt Leitess recounted previously undisclosed details of the attack.