ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Jury selection will begin Wednesday in the next phase of the Capital Gazette mass shooting case. The defendant, 39-year-old Jarrod Ramos, admitted he was guilty of five murders and 18 other criminal counts in a surprise plea earlier this week.
The next step will be for jurors to decide whether he was sane at the time of the killings. Ramos’ attorneys are arguing he is “not criminally responsible,” Maryland’s version on an insanity plea.
Three-hundred potential jurors have already filled out questionnaires for the case.
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“What you’re going to be seeing is a battle of experts. The trial is going to be what different experts think about all of the evidence in the case,” said Adam Ruther, a partner in the Baltimore law firm Rosenberg, Martin, Greenberg. He is not representing anyone in this case. “The defense has to prove their client did not have the mental capacity to understand what he did was wrong and/or did not have the ability to control his behavior to make sure it was in the confines of what was legal.”
It is rare in Maryland for a defendant to win a case like this—the burden of proof is on the defense team. “When it’s contested, it is an uphill battle usually for the defense,” Ruther said.
Jurors will see evidence—including letters Ramos wrote—to give a clearer picture of his mental state. The defense has objected to nine pieces of evidence prosecutors want to introduce.
The outcome will determine whether Ramos goes to the Clifton T. Perkins maximum-security psychiatric facility in Jessup — or serves his time in prison.
Prosecutors previously said they want five life sentences without the possibility of parole, one for each of the murder victims.
Jury selection is expected to last three days. This was one of the deadliest attacks ever on journalists in America. Those who died in the June 2018 massacre in Annapolis are Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Rob Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman and John McNamara.