Judge nixes new death trial for Pa. mass killer

Associated Press Modified: September 14, 2011 at 3:15 pm •  Published: September 14, 2011
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Roberto also tried to suggest that Welner was lying and really had changed his mind because he remembered other details about the Baumhammers case, so why not the diagnosis?

As just one example, Welner recalled that Baumhammers was hiring women from escort services in the weeks before the shooting, and noted that 13 of his 19 cell phone calls during that time were for such purposes.

Welner explained he remembered that detail because he felt it refuted the defense diagnosis, in that it would be unusual for a paranoid person to repeatedly invite strange escorts into his home.

Roberto, on the other hand, argued that Baumhammers hired the women to sit and talk with him because he was too disturbed to conduct normal relationships. She maintained the strange behavior helped prove Baumhammers was not sane enough to understand his actions or, at least, not deserving of the death penalty.

Other defense experts and witnesses testified that Baumhammers had delusions he was being followed, shot with lasers and otherwise persecuted by unknown entities. He spent time in a mental hospital in 1993 after telling his parents that strangers were bringing him food and dancing around him as he walked through the streets during a vacation in Ukraine.

Baumhammers was convicted of five counts of first-degree murder, and sentenced to death in less than three hours by a jury, for shooting a Jewish woman who lived next door, two Asian men at a Chinese restaurant, a black man at a karate school and two Indian men at an ethnic grocery store.

One of the Indian men died in 2007 of complications from being left a quadriplegic, which is why Baumhammers wasn't tried for murder in that case. He's also serving 112 years in prison for several lesser charges, including aggravated assault for the victim left paralyzed.

Welner said those victims, not Baumhammers, deserve the public's attention.

"Pittsburghers need not look to Casey Anthony to find irresponsible claims to escape punishment," Welner said, referring to the Florida woman acquitted of killing her toddler in a controversial verdict earlier this year. "This is how low the appeals process of undeniably guilty murderers has degenerated."