A man charged with killing five people in a Maryland newsroom last year changed his plea to guilty on Monday but will still pursue an insanity defense that argues he should not be held criminally responsible, the authorities said.
The man, Jarrod W. Ramos, had previously pleaded not guilty on 23 charges, including five counts of first-degree murder, after what is considered the deadliest attack against journalists in the United States. A circuit court judge in Maryland, Laura Ripken, accepted Mr. Ramos’s plea and found him guilty after a lengthy hearing on Monday.
Editors, reporters and a sales assistant were killed in the June 2018 shooting at The Capital, a daily newspaper in Annapolis, Md. Mr. Ramos had a long history of conflict with the Capital Gazette, the community newspaper chain that publishes The Capital.
A trial to determine whether he is criminally responsible is expected to start Nov. 4. If Mr. Ramos is found not to be criminally responsible, he could be sent to a state psychiatric facility instead of prison.
Prosecutors said they had assembled overwhelming evidence proving that Mr. Ramos had carried out the attack. In court filings, prosecutors said they planned to show the jury surveillance videotape of the shooting, in which a gunman is seen firing shotgun blasts through the newspaper office’s glass doors and then continuing to fire once inside.
Anne Colt Leitess, the Anne Arundel County state’s attorney, told the court on Monday that Mr. Ramos had barricaded shut the back door of the newsroom and an insurance business across the hall before opening fire.
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SOURCE: The New York Times, Timothy Williams