Defense widens net in Capital Gazette shooting
Team seeks records on accused shooter’s workplace harassment, his cat’s death
Attorneys for the man charged with the murder of five Capital Gazette employees last year have broadened their search for information that might help his defense, asking a judge Monday to approve subpoenas for records about allegations of harassing behavior at work, as well as files from two veterinary clinics where his cat was treated and eventually euthanized.
The five new subpoena requests filed Monday seek any files about the man from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. National Background Investigations Bureau, his former employer Enterprise Information Services, Inc. and two veterinarians.
Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Laura Ripken has yet to rule on the requests. She is presiding over the trial of the 39-year-old Laurel man charged with fatally shooting Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.
Jarrod Ramos faces five counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, six counts of first-degree assault, among a host of other charges.
The request comes about a month after attorneys with the Office of the Public Defender requested subpoenas seeking information related to Ramos’ years-long grudge against the news organization. Ripken approved three of the court orders earlier this month.
In the latest request, the defense attorneys said they tried to get information and records from the Regional Veterinary Referral Center in Springfield, Virginia, “pertaining to Ramos’ cat,” but that the clinic refused to turn anything over without a court order. Ramos took his cat to see one of the vets there from 2014 to 2018, the defense attorneys wrote, and those records “contain relevant and important information, which could assist counsel in preparing their defense.”
Ramos’ public defenders also focused on the Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital in Laurel. During pre-trial evidence sharing, prosecutors turned over an audio recording of two employees of the veterinary center who had contact with Ramos in May of 2018 — about a month before police say he blasted his way through Capital Gazette’s glass front doors, then turning the pump-action shotgun on its employees, killing five.
State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess declined to comment, citing the pending nature of the case. A spokeswoman for the Office of the Public Defender also declined to comment.
Defense attorneys are seeking files from the Rocky Gorge hospital, where Ramos had the animal treated and then euthanized. The attorneys asked for “any and all records, reports, documents, statements, correspondence, emails, electronic images, and/or documentation of any kind in their possession relating in any way to Jarrod Ramos and his cat.”
Ramos, the defense attorneys wrote, was a “help desk specialist” with Enterprise Information Services for seven months starting Jan. 1, 2014, where he was “to provide support for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.” His employment was contingent upon his obtaining and maintaining a security clearance with the U.S. Government, they claimed, and ended July 24 after BLS demanded he be terminated due to “suitability concerns.”
Ripken already has issued subpoenas for Robert Douglas, an attorney who represented the Capital Gazette when Ramos unsuccessfully sued for defamation; Brennan McCarthy, an attorney who represented a woman Ramos was found guilty of harassing; and McCarthy’s sister, Kathleen Kirchner, to produce anything related to Ramos, from records, legal documents, to social media content. A similar request aimed at Capital Gazette editor Rick Hutzell was dropped after a July 31 hearing.
During interviews with law enforcement McCarthy’s wife and law partner, Wendy Hartman, told authorities that McCarthy sent a letter to Enterprise Information Systems telling Ramos’ employer he was posting threats and other “material” to Twitter on government time, the attorneys wrote. It’s unclear based on court records when Hartman met with authorities, though McCarthy met with detectives hours after the shooting on June 28, 2018.
McCarthy previously explained that he’d comply with the separate subpoena for him where the law allowed, turning over an unaltered PDF file he made of Ramos’ Twitter feed from its inception to May 20, 2015 and other documents, but not disclosing any information covered by attorneyclient privilege.
“It is reasonable to believe,” the attorneys wrote, “that the BLS received some information from some source that caused them to demand Ramos be taken off the contract that (Enterprise Information) with BLS and that BLS is in possession of that information.”
They asked Ripken to order the two federal agencies and the government contractor to turn over documents, communication or notes related to Ramos’ “security clearance and suitability for a position with Enterprise Information Services.” The backgrounding bureau, the attorneys wrote, would have collected information relevant to Ramos obtaining, keeping and being stripped of a security clearance.