US: Capital Gazette gunman gets more than five life sentences

Prosecutor says Jarrod Ramos, who killed five people at newspaper in 2018, received maximum sentence under law.

A makeshift memorial outside the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, on July 1, 2018 [File: Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo]

A judge in the United States has sentenced the gunman who killed five people in a 2018 mass shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland to more than five life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Anne Colt Leitess, state attorney for Anne Arundel County, on Tuesday announced the sentence against Jarrod Ramos, who earlier this year had been found guilty on five counts of first-degree murder, among other charges.

Leitess said Ramos received the maximum sentence under the law and lauded the victims’ family members who testified at the legal proceedings.

“I think a lot of these folks have been on a journey of healing, and this day is really going to hopefully be the next chapter for most of them,” Leitess said during a news conference after the sentencing hearing.

Judge Michael Wachs underscored what he called Ramos’s lack of remorse before announcing the sentence.

“To say the defendant showed a callous and cruel disregard for the sanctity of human life is simply an understatement,” the judge was quoted as saying by the Gazette. “What I impose is what the defendant deserves.”

Ramos killed five people in the Gazette’s newsroom in June 2018: assistant editor Rob Hiaasen, 59; reporter Wendi Winters, 65; editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, 61; sports journalist John McNamara, 56, and Rebecca Smith, 34.

Prosecutors accused Ramos of planning to kill as many people as possible in an act of revenge after the newspaper published a story about a harassment conviction he received in 2011.

Ramos had pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible, arguing Maryland’s version of an insanity defence. A jury found him criminally responsible in July after a 12-day trial that was repeatedly delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Several of the victims’ relatives spoke at Tuesday’s sentencing hearing.

Montana Winters Geimer, the daughter of Wendi Winters, said her mother “woke up one morning, went to work and never came back.”

“The day she died was the worst day of my life,” Geimer told Wachs, according to The Associated Press news agency. “The hours spent not knowing if she was alive or dead have lived in my nightmares ever since.”

For years, the US has been grappling with frequent mass shootings. The country recorded 611 mass shootings in 2020, a jump from 417 the year earlier, according to an analysis by USA Today.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies