Pretrial hearing set for man charged in newsroom attack

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A judge has scheduled a hearing this month to resolve several pretrial matters for the man charged with killing five people at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Laura Ripken met privately with prosecutors and defense attorneys for Jarrod Ramos for nearly an hour Monday before saying they would return for a June 25 hearing on several pretrial motions.

Ripken said the private meeting in her chambers included a discussion of scheduling issues and what matters need to be addressed at the next hearing.

Ramos is scheduled to be tried in November on first-degree murder charges in the June 2018 shooting attack on the Capital Gazette newsroom.

Ripken previously ordered a mental health evaluation for Ramos, whose attorneys have filed a plea that he is not criminally responsible by reason of insanity. An independent doctor will write a report that will be sent to attorneys and the court. The mental health issues aren’t likely to be discussed at the June 25 hearing, State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess told reporters.

Court officers brought Ramos into court for Monday’s brief hearing.

Ramos had a longstanding grudge against the newspaper and had a history of harassing its journalists. Capital Gazette employees John McNamara, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Gerald Fischman and Rob Hiaasen were killed in the attack.

The rampage began with a shotgun blast that shattered the glass entrance to the newsroom. Journalists crawled under desks and sought other hiding places, describing agonizing minutes of terror as they heard the gunman’s footsteps and repeated blasts of the weapon. County police said they captured Ramos hiding under a desk.

The newspaper published as usual the very next day, and won a special Pulitzer Prize citation for its coverage and courage in the face of the massacre in its newsroom.

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