Judge denies defense request in newspaper shooting case
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The judge in a case against a man accused of killing five people at a Maryland newspaper office ruled Monday that prosecutors have provided “significantly more” information about the charges to defense attorneys than the law requires.
Lawyers for Jarrod Ramos asked Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Laura Ripken last month to require prosecutors to give them more details about the charges, as they weigh changing their client’s plea to not criminally responsible by reason of insanity. His attorneys currently have a Friday deadline to change the plea from not guilty.
“The judge’s ruling was that the state complied with the law and provided sufficient evidence for the defense to prepare for court,” said Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess, speaking with reporters outside the courthouse in Annapolis.
William Davis, an attorney for Ramos, declined to comment after a brief court hearing. Ramos, with long hair and a beard, attended the hearing.
A trial is currently scheduled for June. A scheduling conference has been set for March 28 “to determine whether it’s appropriate to proceed in June,” Leitess said.
Prosecutors are seeking life in prison without possibility of parole. Letters that threatened the newsroom and were signed with Ramos’ name were received by area judges and an attorney in the days following the June 28 attack.
Ramos been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Ann Smith and Wendi Winters in the attack. Police say he used a shotgun to blast his way inside the newsroom. He also has been charged with attempted murder and assault related to other people in the newspaper office at the time of the attack and gun crimes.
Prosecutors say Ramos carefully planned the attack, barricading the rear exit of the office to prevent people from escaping.
Ramos, of Laurel, Maryland, held a longtime grudge against the newspaper. The Capital 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.
This version corrects that defense attorneys made the request last month.