A man who killed five people at a newspaper in Maryland was sentenced on Tuesday to more than five life sentences without the possibility of parole.
The Anne Arundel county judge Michael Wachs ordered the sentence for Jarrod Ramos, who a jury found criminally responsible for killing Wendi Winters, John McNamara, Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen and Rebecca Smith with a shotgun at the Capital Gazette office in Annapolis in June 2018.
The assault was one of the worst attacks on journalists in US history.
Prosecutors contended that Ramos, 41, acted out of revenge against the newspaper after it published a story about his guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of harassing a former high school classmate in 2011.
Prosecutors said his long, meticulous planning for the attack – which included preparations for his arrest and long incarceration – proved he understood the criminality of his actions.
Ramos pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible to all 23 counts against him, using Maryland’s version of an insanity defense. The case was delayed several times before and during the coronavirus pandemic.
After a 12-day trial in July, a jury took less than two hours to reject arguments from Ramos’s attorneys that he could not understand the criminality of his actions.
On Tuesday, before announcing the sentence Judge Wachs noted that Ramos showed no remorse and even told a state psychiatrist he would kill more if released.
“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 sat in court wearing a black mask, declined to make a statement when asked by his attorney, Katy O’Donnell.
Survivors of the shooting and relatives of the five people who died described their pain and loss.
Montana Winters Geimer, daughter of Wendi Winters, testified how her mother “woke up one morning, went to work and never came back”.
“The day she died was the worst day of my life,” Geimer told Wachs. “The hours spent not knowing if she was alive or dead have lived in my nightmares ever since.”
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