Baumhammers Wants Death Sentence Thrown Out
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A judge continued to hear arguments in the case of convicted killer Richard Baumhammers on Tuesday.
Baumhammers, who currently sits on death row for a shooting rampage that killed five people on April 28, 2000, wants his death sentence thrown out.
A decade ago, a jury handed down five death sentences for the murders of Anita Gordon, Thao Pham, Ji-Ye Sun, Anil Thakur, and Garry Lee. A sixth victim who was paralyzed in the shooting rampage, Sandip Patel, died seven years later.
Baumhammers returned to court on Monday claiming that his original lawyers were ineffective and that a psychiatrist’s testimony at his trial was misleading. His attorneys are either seeking a new trial or to have his death sentence reversed.
Earlier today, an expert for the defense described Baumhammers’ childhood and his parents’ interaction with him.
Dr. Leslie Lebowitz of Boston testified that the upbringing of Baumhammers’ parents in war-torn Latvia had to be taken into account to understand their rearing of a son with mental illness.
According to that testimony, Richard Baumhammers repeated kindergarten, was hysterical about separation from his parents in nursery school, and at age 7, a psychiatrist recommended treatment for him.
Dr. Lebowitz went on to say that his parents gave him all he wanted when he would threaten suicide, but Baumhammers still suffered a psychotic breakdown in 1993 — seven years before the murders.
Even so, a prosecutor said Baumhammers made a conscious decision to target six minorities.
Later, Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner stood by his original diagnosis of Baumhammers and said any subsequent quotes by him in news articles referring to Baunhammers as “schizophrenic” were mistakes on his part.
Dr. Welner, a prosecution rebuttal witness, testified in the 2001 trial that Baumhammers suffered from delusional disorder, but knew what he was doing when he shot six people randomly based on their ethnicity.
However, in three separate articles since then, Welner said Baumhammers was schizophrenic.
Welner said he had not reviewed his notes before being quoted in the articles.
Also, tempers flared when defense attorney Caroline Roberto objected to a ruling by Judge Jeffrey Manning and said in a raised voice, “Oh, your honor!”
Manning replied, “Oh, your honor? I’ll see you in chambers.”
After a few minutes the hearing resumed with no further incident.
The day before, Roberto implied she may have had more death penalty experience than the judge, and Manning bristled that he has presided over 23 death certified jury trials.