The Herald, Sharon, PA Published Wednesday, May 10, 2000


Accused shooter called incompetent

Judge denies mistrial request
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Burrows’ lawyer: Jury info seen
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The Associated Press

A court psychiatrist said a man accused of killing five people in a racially motivated shooting spree is a paranoid schizophrenic who hears voices, is delusional and has other mental problems. Dr. Christine Martone said Tuesday that Richard Baumhammers, 34, is incompetent to stand trial. She said he seemed so detached in two interviews last week that she thought he could not help his lawyers in his own defense.

Allegheny County Judge Lawrence O’Toole delayed a ruling on Baumhammers’ competency. He said that he would rule on the issue only after Deputy District Attorney Ed Borkowski reviews a report by another doctor who also interviewed Baumhammers.

Martone said the other report, by Dr. Sabato Stile, supports her findings. If Baumhammers is found incompetent to stand trial, he would be treated at the Mayview State Hospital until such time as he is deemed competent. If he was never deemed competent, Baumhammers would remain hospitalized indefinitely, said his attorney, William Difenderfer.

Borkowski questioned Martone on whether she was sure Baumhammers was not faking his symptoms to avoid a trial. She said she was.

He also pressed her on whether it would be helpful for her to review Baumhammers’ mental health records from two previous periods when he was hospitalized for treatment. She said it would not because Baumhammers’ past mental state was irrelevant as to whether he is competent to assist in his own defense now.

Earlier Tuesday, Borkowski had argued that he should be allowed to see Baumhammers’ mental health records from his stays in Western Psychiatric and St. Clair hospitals. But attorneys for Baumhammers and the hospitals said Baumhammers has the right to keep the records confidential. But Borkowski argued that Baumhammers’ attorneys waived his right to confidentiality by publicly discussing his past mental health.

Police said Baumhammers, the son of Latvian immigrants, targeted ethnic and religious minorities in the April 28 shooting spree in Allegheny and Beaver counties.

Those killed included a Jewish woman, an Indian man, a Chinese man, a Vietnamese man and a black man. Baumhammers is also accused of injuring another Indian man.

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