An Anne Arundel County judge on Tuesday sentenced the man who blasted his way into the Capital Gazette newsroom and killed five people to six life sentences, five without the possibility of parole, plus 345 years — all to be served consecutively.
Judge Michael Wachs handed down the sentence after hearing from survivors of the mass shooting and the family members of Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters, who died in the attack.
“To say the defendant showed a callous and cruel disregard for the sanctity of human life is simply an understatement,” Wachs said before announcing his sentence. “What I impose is what the defendant deserves.”
A jury in July found Jarrod Ramos, 41, was criminally responsible after a 12-day trial to determine whether he was sane at the time of the crime.
Ramos in October 2019 pleaded guilty to the entire indictment: five counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder, six counts of first-degree assault and 11 counts of using a firearm in a felony crime of violence.
Ramos pleaded not criminally responsible, Maryland’s version of the insanity plea, and jurors determined within two hours that he should be sent to prison for life rather than treated at a hospital for an undetermined amount of time. Their verdict came after roughly half a dozen delays of the trial for legal reasons and because of the coronavirus pandemic.
During the trial, the six people who survived the attack testified in great detail about the 19 minutes from the time Ramos breached the glass newsroom door with a shotgun blast to the time authorities apprehended him, hiding under a desk. All of the survivors said they thought he would kill them, as he did their colleagues, four of whom died in the office. Smith died in the hospital.
At sentencing Tuesday, a dozen survivors and victims’ family members gave statements describing the trauma the shooting inflicted upon them.
Among them was Andrea Chamblee, the widow of McNamara.
“The real victim impact is that he’s gone when he deserved to be here. He deserved to enjoy seeing his recognition, to enjoy this time in his life, and I was so hoping to see it and experience it with him, and pay him back for all the kindnesses that he gave to me,” she said. “Now I never will.”
Outside the courthouse after the sentencing, Winters’ daughter Montana Winters Geimer said the sentence provided some solace.
“”It brings us solace that the person who took her from us will never breathe freedom again,” she said.
In court, Ramos was described as having no friends and living most of his life with his cat in a one-bedroom apartment in Laurel. There, he ruminated over a 2011 Capital Gazette column about his harassment conviction and filed a dizzying array of lawsuits trying to rectify his gripe with the newspaper, the woman he tormented and attorneys for both. When his legal recourse ran out, he began planning the attack.
He conducted extensive research, studied blueprints of the Annapolis building, disguised himself to do reconnaissance of the office suite more than a year before the shooting, stockpiled weapons and ammunition, and practiced loading and unloading the Mossberg shotgun he bought online and picked up at the Bass Pro Shops in Hanover.
On the day of the shooting, Ramos deployed barricades before opening fire. He meticulously maneuvered about the newsroom, working the pump on the shotgun and concealed himself after calling 911 to say he surrendered and was no longer armed. After his capture, he said little in custody during almost eight hours of Anne Arundel police and FBI interrogation.
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