Sanity trial in newspaper shooting postponed amid pandemic

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Court proceedings to determine criminal sanity for a man who pleaded guilty to killing five people at Maryland newspaper have been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jarrod Ramos’ pre-trial hearings have been moved to August and a sanity trial was moved to December in the Capital Gazette murder case, news outlets reported. Additional dates are reserved in September for pre-trial motions if needed.

This is just the latest delay after repeated postponements.

Ramos pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible by reason of insanity in October to all 23 counts against him for killing John McNamara, Gerald Fischman, Wendi Winters, Rob Hiaasen and Rebecca Smith in the 2018 newsroom rampage at the Capital Gazette.

Pre-trial hearings would determine, among other things, whether the defense can get records pertaining to a prosecution expert’s jail visit.

Attorneys have been arguing over the visit made by a forensic psychiatrist to the detention center where Ramos was held. Court papers say he interviewed numerous witnesses at the facility to prepare for the trial, which will determine whether Ramos was criminally sane during the murders.

If found not criminally responsible, Ramos would be committed to a maximum-security psychiatric hospital instead of prison.

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