De­fense widens net in Capital Gazette shoot­ing

Team seeks records on ac­cused shooter’s work­place ha­rass­ment, his cat’s death

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Alex Mann

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.

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