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Attorney for accused Capital Gazette gunman weighs insanity defense

In this June 28, 2018, photo released by the Anne Arundel Police, Jarrod Warren Ramos poses for a photo, in Annapolis, Md. First-degree murder charges were filed Friday against Ramos who police said targeted Maryland's capital newspaper, shooting his way into the newsroom and killing four journalists and a staffer before officers swiftly arrested him. (Anne Arundel Police via AP)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — An attorney for a man charged with killing five people at the Capital Gazette newsroom has asked a Maryland court for more time to consider an insanity defense for his client.

William Davis, a public defender, asked the court to find “good cause” to grant an extension of time limitations for his client, Jarrod Ramos.

In a court filing this week, Davis cited a Maryland law that requires a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity to be entered at the time the defendant initially pleads “unless good cause is shown.” Davis wrote there are about 800 pages of documents to review, and the material does not include lab reports, witness statements, crime scene photographs and “significant other discoverable information.”

“Counsel has neither received, nor had sufficient opportunity, to review the complete State’s discovery materials, nor has counsel had even the most minimal time to adequately conduct his own independent investigation,” Davis wrote. 

A spokeswoman for Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams declined to comment.

Davis noted that the decision to enter a plea of “not criminally responsible is a fundamental right of the Defendant and can only be made after a complete investigation and meaningful consultation with his attorneys.”

“In light of the nature and complexity of this case, the limited defense investigation, and the subsequent requisite consultation with the Defendant, there is clearly good cause for this Court to extend the filing deadlines set forth” in Maryland law, Davis wrote.

Ramos, 38, pleaded not guilty July 30. He has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Ann Smith and Wendi Winters in the June 28 attack at the newsroom, where police said he used a shotgun to blast his way inside. He also has been charged with attempted murder, assault and gun crimes.

Prosecutors said Ramos carefully planned the attack and barricaded the rear exit of the office to prevent people from escaping.

Ramos, of Laurel, Maryland, had a longtime grudge against the newspaper. The Capital Gazette had written about Ramos pleading guilty to harassing a former high school classmate in 2011, and Ramos unsuccessfully sued the writer and the newspaper’s publisher for defamation.

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