Judge gives time to study insanity plea

Posted: August 21, 2018 at 4:41 a.m.
Updated: August 21, 2018 at 4:41 a.m.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The man charged with killing five people at a Maryland newspaper office will get more time for his lawyer to consider filing a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity, a judge ruled Monday.

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Laura Kiessling said she found good cause to give Jarrod Ramos’ lawyer until Oct. 24 to consider entering a plea of not criminally responsible. William Davis, a public defender, requested more time last week to consider hundreds of pages of docu-

ments, review other material in the case and have discussions with his client. Ramos pleaded innocent on July 30.

After meeting with attorneys, Kiessling scheduled a jury trial for Jan. 15. During a court hearing afterward, Kiessling estimated the trial could last 10 days. She also scheduled hearings for Dec. 18 and 19 to discuss admissible evidence.

Ramos faces 23 charges. The 38-year-old has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John Mc-

Namara, Rebecca Ann Smith and Wendi Winters in the June 28 attack at the newsroom, where police say he used a shotgun to blast his way inside. He also has been charged with attempted murder, assault and gun crimes.

Prosecutors say Ramos carefully planned the attack and barricaded the rear exit of the office to prevent people from escaping.

Ramos, of Laurel, Md., had a longtime grudge against the newspaper. The Capital Gazette had written about Ramos pleading guilty to harassing a former high school

classmate in 2011, and Ramos unsuccessfully sued the writer and the newspaper’s publisher for defamation.

Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams noted some uncertainty that remains due to a potential plea change.

“Obviously we have to see everything that’s filed. We will respond accordingly, based on what evaluations are provided to us and our own evaluations as the evidence dictates,” Adams told reporters, when asked how he would respond to a plea of not criminally responsible.