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Jury Finds Capital Gazette Shooter Criminally Responsible For 2018 Mass Shooting

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- A jury found the Capital Gazette shooter criminally responsible on Thursday for the 2018 mass shooting that killed five people.

The unanimous verdict was found by 12 jurors of eight men and four women who stood up in court and said the defendant was criminally responsible.

Family members and survivors who attended the trial over the two weeks sometimes saw graphic images of the shooting. After the verdict was announced, they thanked the jury.

"When people talk about the five victims of this violent crime, you can look around and see there is a lot more than five," said Andrea Chamblee, John McNamara's widow. "It ripples all over the county, the state and the country. There are a lot of people who couldn't be here today because they have to choke on their own words when they talk about this horrific crime."

The trial lasted for more than two weeks. There were dozens of witnesses and many hours of testimony came down to a single moment.


The prosecution said the shooter was thinking like a "chess player" on the day of the shooting on June 28, 2018. Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said he planned his entry into the newsroom and how to keep himself safe while killing others.

"I think this quick verdict showed the thoroughness of the state's preparation in rebutting the defense's case. Our case was only about three days, the defenses was seven days long, and our job was simply to rebut what the defense put on and we did a great job with that," Leitess said.

The defendant previously pleaded guilty to 23 counts related to the mass shooting that killed Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.

In closing arguments, one of the shooter's attorneys told the jury that the shooting was premeditated, deliberate and intentional. The defense attorney told the jury their client was guilty but not criminally responsible.

The jury had to sort through the complex legal issue of criminal responsibility, which is said because of a mental disorder at the time of the shooting the shooter lacked the substantial capacity to either appreciate the criminality of the conduct or conform that conduct to the requirements of the law.

When the jurors announced one by one that they agreed with the verdict, Jarrod Ramos sat silently as he did throughout the trial.

The defendant has the opportunity to request a new trial and the request has to take place within 10 days.

Regarding a motion for a new trial, Leitess said "For a new trial, he's going to have to show there was some grave error, procedural or legal error that happened during the trial, and they have not raised such an error, so we are very confident that that won't happen."

The second phase of the trial was to determine if the defendant would spend the rest of his life in a maximum-security prison or a state hospital.

Sentencing is expected in about eight weeks.

Defense attorneys said they did not want to comment on the case at this time.

A full statement from State's Attorney Anne Colt Leitess on the Guilty Verdict:

"Today, is truly a bittersweet day.

Just moments ago, a jury found Jarrod Ramos criminally responsible for murdering John McNamara, Rob Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman, Wendi Winters and Rebecca Smith – our Guardians of the First Amendment.

It's been more than three years since Jarrod Ramos intentionally and methodically entered the Capital Gazette suite located at 888 Bestgate Road and executed a revengeful act against innocent victims. In a matter of minutes, he robbed the families of more hugs and kisses and friends of more priceless moments but most importantly, each and every one of them of more time. Their lost will forever impact our community but their words and legacy will always remain.

To John, Rob, Gerald, Wendi and Rebecca, we thank you for your bravery, trust and commitment to our community. You will never be forgotten.

I would like to thank my co-counsel David Russell for his contributions to this verdict, the State's Attorney's Office for their support, Anne Arundel County Police Department, Anne Arundel County Fire Department, Anne Arundel County Sheriff's Department, Annapolis Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Dr. Gregory Saathoff, doctors from Maryland Department of Health but most importantly I would like to thank the loved ones of the victims and the survivors for trusting me in seeking justice for their family and friends."



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