The man who stormed into the newsroom of a community newspaper chain in Maryland’s capital in 2018, killing five staff members, was sentenced on Tuesday to five consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole, according to prosecutors.
The man, Jarrod W. Ramos, 41, had pleaded guilty in October 2019 to 23 charges, including five counts of first-degree murder, for the shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper offices in Annapolis on June 28, 2018, one of the deadliest attacks on American journalists.
The Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office announced the sentence after a two-hour hearing. The state’s attorney, Anne Colt Leitess, had asked for at least five life sentences without the possibility of parole.
The state’s attorney’s office said in a statement that Mr. Ramos also was sentenced to a sixth life term for the attempted murder of one person who survived the shooting, and to an additional 345 years on other charges.
“The impact of this case is just simply immense,” Judge Michael Wachs said, according to The Associated Press. “To say that the defendant exhibited a callous and complete disregard for the sanctity of human life is simply a huge understatement.”
Before the sentencing, in Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, survivors of the shooting and relatives of the victims spoke, telling Judge Wachs of the pain and their loss.
Montana Winters Geimer, a daughter of one of the victims, Wendi Winters, 65, a local news reporter and community columnist, testified that her mother “woke up one morning, went to work and never came back.”
“The day she died was the worst day of my life,” she told the judge, according to The A.P. “The hours spent not knowing if she was alive or dead have lived in my nightmares ever since.”
When offered an opportunity to address the court, Mr. Ramos declined by shaking his head, The Washington Post reported.
After the hearing, Ms. Leitess told reporters that Mr. Ramos had “tried to stare me down” in court. “The judge had the last word. The community had the last word.”
She added: “He didn’t win.”
“It was the most serious sentence that you can get in the state of Maryland,” she said.
In July, a jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding that Mr. Ramos was sane at the time of the attack and criminally responsible for his actions.
Six survivors testified at that trial, recalling the day that Mr. Ramos walked through their workplace with a 12-gauge shotgun, killing five colleagues: Gerald Fischman, 61, the editorial page editor; Rob Hiaasen, 59, an editor and features columnist; John McNamara, 56, a sports reporter and editor for the local weekly papers; Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant; and Ms. Winters.
Selene San Felice, a former reporter at The Capital Gazette who was in the newsroom during the shooting, told reporters after the sentencing that prosecutors had notified her before the trial that Mr. Ramos had said that he regretted not shooting her.
“His part of the story is over now,” she said. “It is an immense amount of closure to be able to see them take him away forever.”
Mr. Ramos’s lawyers had described him as a loner who was fueled by delusions and who believed that The Capital Gazette and the Maryland court system were conspiring against him.
Prosecutors said Mr. Ramos had carried out the shooting as an attempt at revenge after The Capital Gazette published an article in 2011 about his guilty plea in a previous harassment case.
He filed a defamation lawsuit against Capital Gazette Communications and several of its employees in July 2012. A judge dismissed it after Mr. Ramos could not identify anything that had been falsely reported or show that he had been harmed by the article.
Mr. Ramos had also used a Twitter account to taunt the reporter who wrote the article. He posted screenshots of court documents relating to the defamation case and railed against other newspaper employees. His tweets were laced with profanities, and often addressed employees directly.
Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland said after Mr. Ramos was sentenced that justice has been served, and that the five people who were killed would stay “forever in our hearts.”
“While we hope this brings some measure of closure to the families, the pain of that horrible day will always be with us,” he said in a statement on Twitter.
On June 28, the third anniversary of the attack, the city of Annapolis dedicated a memorial to the victims, calling it “Guardians of the First Amendment.”
Steven Rittenour, a brother of Ms. Smith, told reporters on Tuesday that it was “some sort of solace” to see that the memory of his sister will be enshrined there.
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