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Man charged with the newsroom killings pleads not guilty

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A man who is accused of the murder of five people in The Capital newsroom in Maryland pleaded not guilty Monday in court papers, his lawyers have argued an identification of the client at trial will be tainted by “inappropriate” identification procedures used by the police.

Lawyers for Jarrod Ramos entered a not guilty plea in electronic court filings, shortly before his scheduled first appearance, which was cancelled as a result of the request. The look 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 quick trial.

“By doing that, which eliminates the need for a first appearance, because he now has a lawyer. He is represented,” Wes Adams, Anne Arundel County state 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 to the editorial board and by 28 June. Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, and Wendi Winters were killed.

Ramos’ lawyers contend in court papers that “any court identification at the trial of the Accused will be infected as a result of impermissible suggestive identification procedures conducted by the police and/or the result of an illegal arrest or search.” The submission did not elaborate. Ramos was identified by authorities by means of face recognition technology.

Lawyers for Ramos also argued Monday in the filings that evidence seized in the case was obtained illegally. Lawyers also demanded that the prosecutor produce at trial the chemist, analyst, technician, or other person who analyzed the substance alleged by the prosecution to be controlled dangerous substance, including any substance used as a measure of comparison.”

They called for the presence of a breathalyzer operator or the blood technician or analyst” who obtained samples.

Melissa Rothstein, a spokeswoman for the public defender’s office, said neither Davis, nor the office of the public defender is a comment on the matter.

“OPD is the general position is not to comment on active cases,” Rothstein wrote in an e-mail.

Adams said that the next step in the case is a status conference scheduled to take place sometime before the end of the following month by Anne Arundel County Judge Laura Kiessling, who has been assigned the case. Adams said the status of the conference is intended to discuss a schedule for the hearing of motions, a trial date and other matters related to the prosecution of the case.

The Capital newspaper had written about Ramos plead guilty to harassment of a former high school classmate in 2011. Ramos had in vain called upon the writer and the newspaper’s publisher for defamation.

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