Jarrod Ramos sentenced to five life sentences in Capital Gazette attack
The man who broke into the newsroom of a community newspaper chain in the Maryland capital in 2018, killing five staff, was sentenced Tuesday to five consecutive life sentences without the possibility of release conditional, according to prosecutors.
The man, Jarrod W. Ramos, 41, pleaded guilty in October 2019 to 23 counts, including five counts of first degree murder, for the shooting at the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis on June 28. 2018, one of the deadliest. attacks on American journalists.
The Anne Arundel County State Attorney’s Office announced the sentence after a two-hour hearing. Public prosecutor Anne Colt Leitess had requested at least five life sentences without the possibility of parole.
The state attorney’s office said in a statement that Mr. Ramos was also sentenced to a sixth life sentence for the attempted first degree murder of a survivor of the shooting. He was also sentenced to an additional 345 years on other charges, including assault and firearms.
“The impact of this case is simply immense,” Judge Michael Wachs said, according to the Associated Press. “To say that the accused displayed a complete and callous disregard for the sanctity of human life is simply a huge understatement.”
Before sentencing, in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, shooting survivors and relatives of the victims addressed the court, telling Judge Wachs of the pain and loss.
Montana Winters Geimer, daughter of one of the victims, Wendi Winters, 65, local journalist and community columnist, testified that her mother “woke up one morning, went to work and never came back.”
“The day of her death was the worst day of my life,” she told the judge, according to the AP. “The hours spent not knowing if she was alive or dead have been living in my nightmares ever since.
After the hearing, Ms Leitess told reporters that Mr Ramos had “tried to stare at me” in court. “The judge had the last word. The community had the last word.
She added: “He didn’t win.”
“It was the most serious sentence you can get in the state of Maryland,” she said.
In July, a jury deliberated for less than two hours before concluding that Mr Ramos was sane at the time of the attack and criminally responsible for his actions.
Six survivors testified at the trial, recalling the day Mr. Ramos walked through their workplace with a 12-gauge shotgun, killing five colleagues: Gerald Fischman, 61, the editorial page editor; Rob Hiaasen, 59, featured editor and columnist; John McNamara, 56, sports reporter and editor of local weeklies; Rebecca Smith, 34, sales assistant; and Mrs. Winters.
At the sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Mr McNamara’s wife, Andrea Chamblee, described her husband as dedicated and exceptional.
“John went out that day to go to work, and I realized I hadn’t kissed him goodbye as usual, so I ran to do it,” she said, according to a prepared version of his testimony which was published by La Gazette de la Capitale. “The blue shirt he was wearing was the same one that appeared on his writer’s profile picture. This would be the shirt in which he would be murdered.
Ms Chamblee said in a telephone interview after the hearing that she also told the judge how difficult it was to describe the intimate details of her marriage in front of “people who find pleasure in the pain of others” .
Mr Ramos declined the opportunity to address the court on Tuesday, but Ms Chamblee said she met his gaze at one point.
“I didn’t see anything,” she said in the interview. “I saw no recognition of his role in this tragedy.”
“He was fully masked and he appeared to be remarkably unmoved,” she added.
Selene San Felice, a former Capital Gazette reporter who was in the newsroom during the shooting, also spoke in court on Tuesday.
“Three years ago, the accused said that one of his only regrets on June 28 was that he did not kill me,” she said, according to a statement she read to the court and subsequently shared with The New York Times via email. “He should probably regret it again.” Because every day since he failed to kill me, I have dedicated my life to becoming a stronger, more outspoken journalist.
She later told reporters that there were “an immense amount of closures to be able to see them take her away forever.”
Mr Ramos’ lawyers had described him as a loner fueled by illusions who believed the Capital Gazette and the Maryland justice system were conspiring against him.
Prosecutors said Mr Ramos carried out the shooting as an attempt at revenge after the Capital Gazette published an article in 2011 about his guilty plea in a previous harassment case.
He filed a defamation suit against Capital Gazette Communications and several of its employees in July 2012. A judge dismissed it after Mr. Ramos could not identify anything that had been falsely reported or show that it was. had been hurt by the article.
Mr Ramos also used a Twitter account to taunt the journalist who wrote the article. He posted screenshots of court documents relating to the defamation case and denounced other employees of the newspaper. His tweets were rife with profanity and often addressed directly to employees.
Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland said after Mr. Ramos’ conviction that justice had been served and that the five people killed would remain “in our hearts forever.”
“While we hope this brings some closure to the families, the pain of that horrible day will always be with us,” he said in a statement on Twitter.
On June 28, the third anniversary of the attack, the city of Annapolis dedicated a memorial to the victims, calling him “Guardians of the First Amendment”.
Steven Rittenour, a brother of Ms Smith, told reporters on Tuesday it was “a kind of comfort” to see his sister’s memory written there.