ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Attorneys for the man accused of killing five people in a shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom argued Thursday that prosecutors haven't given them enough factual details involving the charges, as they weigh changing their client's plea from not guilty to not criminally responsible by reason of insanity.
But a prosecutor told a judge the essential elements of the case have been provided.
Katy O'Donnell, a public defender representing Jarrod Ramos, said details about his alleged conduct "becomes elevated when it relates to a potential not criminally responsible plea."
James Tuomey, an Anne Arundel County prosecutor, asked a judge to dismiss the defense's request that more information be provided in what's known as the bill of particulars, or the formal statement of charges. He said the state is not required to provide a complete narrative of what happened. He said the defense won't be surprised by the facts of the case.
"The state has provided facts in response to the defendant's request," Tuomey said.
Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Laura Ripken said she will make her decision on the defense's request on March 11.
Ramos, with long hair and a beard, attended the court hearing and sat with his attorneys while wearing leg chains.
Ripken has set a March 15 date for attorneys to submit a new plea of not responsible by reason of insanity. A trial is scheduled for June.
Prosecutors are seeking life in prison without possibility of parole. Letters that threatened the newsroom and were signed with Ramos' name were received by area judges and an attorney in the days following the attack on June 28. William Davis, an attorney for Ramos, said the state has asked for and received handwriting samples.
Ramos been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Ann Smith and Wendi Winters in the attack at the newsroom, where police say he used a shotgun to blast his way inside. He also has been charged with attempted murder and assault related to other people in the newspaper office at the time of the attack and gun crimes.
Prosecutors say Ramos carefully planned the attack and barricaded the rear exit of the office to prevent people from escaping.
Ramos, of Laurel, Maryland, held a longtime grudge against the newspaper. The Capital had written about Ramos pleading guilty to harassing a former high school classmate in 2011 and Ramos unsuccessfully sued the writer and the newspaper's publisher for defamation.