Baumhammers seeks new trial in killing rampage

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The Mt. Lebanon man accused of killing six people during a racially motivated shooting rampage 11 years ago is in court today seeking a new trial.

Richard S. Baumhammers, 46, was convicted and sentenced to die in May 2001 after he went on a rampage from Mt. Lebanon to Center, Beaver County, in which he killed five people and left one paralyzed. The sixth victim died in 2007.

Caroline Roberto, who is representing Mr. Baumhammers during this post-conviction relief stage of the appeals process, argued that Mr. Baumhammers' trial counsel was ineffective. She is focusing today on the testimony of Dr. Michael Welner, a psychiatrist who was called as a rebuttal witness by the prosecution. The physician testified during the original case that he believed Mr. Baumhammers suffers not from schizophrenia but from delusional disorder, along with narcissistic personality disorder and anti-social personality disorder.

This morning, Ms. Roberto called two psychiatrists who reviewed that testimony. The first said that schizophrenia would better have explained some of Mr. Baumhammers' personality traits, and that narcissistic personality disorder and anti-social personality disorder are, generally, perceived negatively by the public. Schizophrenia is a brain disease, which is believed by most in the field to be the most serious psychiatric illness.

The second witness told Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning that he did not agree with the methodology used by Dr. Welner to reach his diagnoses of Mr. Baumhammers.

The hearing on the appeal is expected to last two days.

Paula Reed Ward: or 412-263-2620.


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