Deadline Nears for Change of Plea in Capital Gazette Shooting Case

Attorneys for the man accused of killing five people at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, are nearing a deadline to change his plea from not guilty to an insanity defense.

Lawyers for Jarrod Ramos have until the close of business Monday to file a change of plea to not criminally responsible.

Ramos, now 39, is accused of fatally shooting five people in the Capital Gazette newsroom last year. Ramos was indicted on 23 charges, including first-degree murder in the deaths of Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Ann Smith and Wendi Winters.

His trial is set for November.

During a court hearing earlier this month, an attorney for Ramos made several references to his client's "bizarre behavior" leading up to the attack.

Because of additional case materials they had received, Ramos' attorneys in March asked for 60 to 90 days beyond an earlier deadline to consider changing their client's plea from not guilty to not criminally responsible by reason of insanity. The judge extended the deadline until Monday.

Ramos had a well-documented history of harassing the paper's journalists.

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Former Capital Gazette editor Tom Marquardt told the News4 I-Team last year that Ramos' grudge began after the paper published an article in 2011 detailing a court case in which Ramos pleaded guilty to harassing a former classmate on Facebook.

Marquardt said Ramos became enraged and established a web page to post his rantings about the newspaper. He says it quickly escalated into personal attacks on Twitter against Marquardt, the reporter and even Maryland judges who handled a defamation case Ramos filed and lost. 

"We all felt threatened there and were all concerned about it," said Marquardt. 

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