A man charged with killing five people at The Capital Gazette in Maryland pleaded not guilty Monday in court papers, and his attorneys contended any identification of their client at trial will be tainted due to "impermissible" identification procedures used by police.
Attorneys for Jarrod Ramos entered the not guilty plea in electronic court filings shortly before his scheduled initial appearance, which was canceled due to the filings. The appearance was no longer needed because Ramos' lawyer, William Davis, formally entered his client's appearance in court documents. Davis made requests for discovery and a speedy trial.
"By doing that, that eliminates the need for an initial appearance because he now has counsel. He is represented," Wes Adams, the Anne Arundel County state's attorney, told reporters outside the courtroom.
Ramos is being held without bail, indicted by a grand jury on 23 counts, including murder, attempted murder and assault. Police say Ramos used a shotgun to blast his way into the newsroom June 28. Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters were killed.
Ramos' lawyers contend in court papers that "any in-court identification at the trial of the Defendant will be tainted as a result of impermissible suggestive identification procedures undertaken by police authorities and/or will be the result of an illegal arrest or search." The filing did not elaborate. Ramos was identified by authorities through facial recognition technology.
Attorneys for Ramos also argued in Monday's filings that evidence seized in the case was obtained illegally. Attorneys also demanded that prosecutors produce at trial "the chemist, analyst, technician, or other person who analyzed any substance alleged by the prosecution to be a controlled dangerous substance, including any substance used as a standard of comparison."
They called for the presence "of any breathalyzer operator or blood technician or analyst" who obtained any samples.
Melissa Rothstein, a spokeswoman for the public defender's office, said neither Davis nor the office of the public defender is commenting on the case.
"OPD's general position is not to comment on active cases," Rothstein wrote in an email.
Adams said the next step in the case is a status conference scheduled sometime before the end of next month by Anne Arundel County Judge Laura Kiessling, who has been assigned the case. Adams said the status conference is intended to discuss a schedule for hearing motions, a trial date and other matters involving prosecution of the case.
The Capital newspaper had written about Ramos pleading guilty to harassing a former high school classmate in 2011. Ramos had unsuccessfully sued the writer and the newspaper's publisher for defamation.