Opening statements are scheduled to begin in the second phase of a trial to determine whether the man who killed five people at the Capital Gazette was legally sane at the time of the mass shooting, reports the Associated Press. Jarrod Ramos pleaded guilty to all 23 counts against him in October 2019, but he is contending he is not criminally responsible due to mental illness. Judge Michael Wachs said during jury selection last week that a “vast majority” of the case will consist of testimony from mental health experts called by defense attorneys and prosecutors.
Under Maryland’s insanity defense law, a defendant has the burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that he is not criminally responsible for his actions. State law says a defendant is not criminally responsible for criminal conduct if — because of a mental disorder or developmental disabilities — he lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct. If Ramos were found not criminally responsible, he would be committed to a maximum-security psychiatric hospital instead of prison. Prosecutors are seeking life without the possibility of parole.