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Missouri Supreme Court upholds Baumruk ruling

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 | 3:53 p.m. CDT; updated 3:59 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ST. LOUIS — The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously upheld both the first-degree murder conviction and the death sentence for Kenneth Baumruk, convicted of killing his wife and wounding four others during a 1992 shooting spree inside the St. Louis County courthouse.

It wasn't known if Baumruk would appeal. Calls to his attorney, public defender Rosemary Percival, and to Daniel McPherson, the prosecutor from the Missouri Attorney General's office, were not returned.

Baumruk, who turns 70 on April 13, is the oldest man condemned to die in Missouri.

In his appeal, Baumruk alleged the trial court erred in eight ways, including finding him competent to stand trial and allowing a biased jury to hear the case.

The shooting occurred on May 5, 1992. Baumruk and his wife, Mary, were about to begin a divorce hearing. Court documents showed he reached into a briefcase and pulled out two .38-caliber handguns and shot his wife in the neck. He then shot her attorney in the chest and his own attorney in the chest, arm and neck as the attorney tried to run.

Baumruk walked around a table and put the gun to his wife's head, killing her. When the judge ran through the door behind his bench, Baumruk chased him.

As Baumruk pursued the judge through a hallway he shot a bailiff in the shoulder. Baumruk continued through the courthouse, shooting at police and shooting at and wounding a security officer. Police returned fire, hitting Baumruk nine times, including twice in the head.

All told, Baumruk shot at eight people before he was subdued.

Baumruk was initially ruled incompetent to stand trial, due in part to the head injuries from the shooting. He was later ruled competent and was convicted and sentenced to death in 2001. The Missouri Supreme Court threw out the verdict, saying the case should not have been heard in the same courthouse where the shooting occurred.

After more competency hearings, the case was allowed to proceed and moved to neighboring St. Charles County. Baumruk was again convicted and sentenced to death. During that trial, defense attorneys tried to show that Baumruk wasn't mentally fit to be executed because he suffered from "delusional disorder" and couldn't appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions.

In the ruling on Tuesday, Supreme Court Judge Patricia Breckenridge wrote there was strong evidence that Baumruk deliberated before killing his wife — he had told co-workers and friends he should shoot her and the attorneys. Breckenridge wrote that Baumruk made detailed plans for the shooting spree, even picked out guns he felt were easy to use and unlikely to jam.

"In light of these circumstances, the imposition of the death penalty was not excessive or disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases," the judge wrote.

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On the Net:

Missouri Supreme Court decision

 


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