Insanity phase of accused Capital Gazette shooter’s trial now postponed

The trial to determine whether the Maryland man who pleaded guilty to killing five people inside the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, was legally insane at the time of the 2018 shooting has been postponed.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Michael Wachs made the ruling Wednesday, following a hearing at which lawyers sparred over the potential testimony of expert witnesses.

Jury selection in the case was set to begin Wednesday, and the trial was set to begin Nov. 4.

Attorneys for Ramos asked for the postponement, after Judge Laura Ripken denied their request to preclude or limit testimony from some experts that prosecutors intend to call.

Prosecutors say the experts will be called to rebut the defense’s contention that Ramos should be found not criminally responsible for the shootings.

The delay in the trial comes the same week Jarrod Ramos, 39, entered a guilty plea on 23 counts, including five counts of first-degree murder in the attack that killed John McNamara, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Gerald Fischman and Rob Hiaasen.

However, Ramos maintained he was not criminally responsible — Maryland’s version of an insanity plea.

The plea meant the case was on track to skip a first phase of determining guilt and was set to move automatically to a second phase over criminal responsibility.

Under Maryland law, a defendant is not criminally responsible for criminal conduct if, because of a mental disorder or developmental disabilities, he lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct.

During the trial, Ramos’ lawyers have the burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that he is not criminally responsible for his actions, according to state law.

The judge said last week that a report from the state health department has found Ramos to be legally sane.

But Ramos’ lawyers say experts on the defense team have reached a different conclusion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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