Man who killed 5 at Maryland newspaper sentenced to life behind bars

A Maryland man who fatally shot five people in a 2018 attack at the Capital Gazette newspaper was sentenced Tuesday to life behind bars without the possibility of parole.

Jarrod Ramos, 41, pleaded guilty in 2019 to all 23 counts against him, but he pleaded not criminally responsible, which is Maryland’s version of an insanity plea.

A jury in July found that he was criminally responsible.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Michael Wachs said he was struck by Ramos’ lack of remorse.

“The impact of this case is just simply immense,” Wachs said. “To say that the defendant exhibited a callous and complete disregard for the sanctity of human life is simply a huge understatement.”

Ramos, who was formally sentenced to six life prison terms and 345 years behind bars, declined to address the court during Tuesday’s hearing. The judge tacked on the sixth life sentence for the attempted murder of photographer Paul Gillespie, and hundreds more years in prison for other charges.

Ramos opened fire at the Annapolis newspaper’s office June 28, 2018, with a pump-action shotgun, in what officials called an act of revenge after the newspaper reported a criminal harassment case that involved him.

He killed Rob Hiaasen, 59, deputy editor; Gerald Fischman, 61, editorial page editor; sports reporter and editor John McNamara, 56; Wendi Winters, 65, a reporter; and Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant.

Survivors of the shooting and loved ones of the victims told Wachs how that day permanently changed their lives.

Montana Winters Geimer, Winters’ daughter, described the emotional torture she suffered before finally learning her mom had died in the carnage.

“The day she died was the worst day of my life,” Geimer told the court. “The hours spent not knowing if she was alive or dead have lived in my nightmares ever since.”

Ramos sued the newspaper and a reporter in a defamation case in 2012 after it reported that Ramos had pleaded guilty to the harassment of a high school classmate. A judge threw out Ramos’ lawsuit.

Ramos had ranted online against the newspaper, and in 2013, the newspaper filed complaints of harassment against him. But in agreement with the Capital Gazette, police halted the investigation for fear that it would provoke him further, police have said.

Defense attorneys argued that Ramos has a delusional disorder, as well as autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and that he grew obsessed with the idea the article ruined his life.

Prosecutors said he planned out the attack and methodically entered the newsroom and “executed a revengeful act against innocent victims,” State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess has said.

Defendant Jarrod Ramos, in green, appears in court, in Annapolis, Md., on June 29, 2021.Kevin Richardson / The Baltimore Sun via AP file

Ramos pleaded guilty to 23 counts, including five counts of first-degree murder.

He shot out the newsroom’s doors and entered the building where he killed his victims, officials said.

Flags were flown at half-staff at the U.S. Capitol in honor of those killed, and Gov. Larry Hogan has proclaimed June 28 as “Freedom of the Press Day” in their memory.

The Capital Gazette was honored with a Pulitzer Prize citation for the response of the journalists and staff in the wake of the attack.

The Associated Press and David K. Li contributed.