ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The man accused in a mass murder in Annapolis last year appeared before a judge Monday as the case inches toward a November trial.
Prosecutors say Jarrod Ramos planned an attack on the Capital Gazette newsroom on June 28, 2018 that killed five people: Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.
Winters was the special publications editor. McNamara was a writer. Fischman was editorial page editor. Smith was a sales assistant. Hiassen was an assistant editor and columnist.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys are arguing about five motions. One of them involves detention center records currently being held by Judge Laura Ripken.
The state wants access to Ramos' jailhouse phone calls and the log of his visitors. The defense team is trying to block that.
Judge Ripken said she would rule on the outstanding motions at a daylong hearing June 25th.
Ramos appeared in court under heavy security wearing glasses with a thick beard and his long hair pulled back into a ponytail. He watched the judge but said nothing.
He has pleaded not criminally responsible by reason of insanity. A court-ordered mental health evaluation at the Clifton T. Perkins facility in Jessup is "ongoing" according to the Anne Arundel County State's Attorney. She does not expect it until August at the earliest.
She said the jury selection is currently set for Wednesday, October 30th.
Prosecutors allege Ramos blocked an exit to the newsroom and opened fire with a shotgun inside—trapping victims. He held a vendetta against the Capital Gazette for an article they published about him years earlier and threatened several reporters in online rants.
Ramos faces life in prison without parole if convicted of the murders.
In spite of the tragedy, the newspaper put out a print edition the next day and won a special citation from the Pulitzer Prize Board for their commitment during "a time of unspeakable grief."
The five who died in the massacre were remembered Monday with their names added to the Newseum's Journalists Memorial in Washington, DC.
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