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Attorney Kills Five Non Whites

PITTSBURGH -- A jury convicted a former immigration lawyer today of killing five people in a shooting spree last year in which he drove through the Pittsburgh suburbs calmly selecting nonwhite victims.

Richard Baumhammers, a 35-year-old non-practicing attorney, also was convicted of eight counts of ethnic intimidation in the rampage that left a sixth victim paralyzed. The jury took three hours to convict him on five counts of first-degree murder in the April 28, 2000, shootings.

He displayed no emotion as the verdicts were read. His father, Dr. Andrejs Baumhammers, said later that he would not comment on the verdicts.

Baumhammers, who is white, shot his Jewish neighbor, two men from India, two Asian men and one black man as he drove his Jeep through suburban Pittsburgh, stopping twice to vandalize synagogues.

Prosecutors said he was trying to make a statement against nonwhite immigration.

Baumhammers could receive the death penalty. Jurors will return Thursday to start hearing testimony in the penalty phase of the trial.

His attorneys admitted Baumhammers was the shooter but said he had struggled with delusions for 10 years and did not know his actions were wrong.

Witnesses said Baumhammers appeared utterly calm as he shot victims at an Indian grocery store, a Chinese restaurant and a karate studio.

Psychiatrists testified that Baumhammers was tormented by the belief that the FBI and CIA were on his tail, that the family maid was a spy and that his skin was peeling off.

"The courageous explanation is that the disease affected his ability to tell right from wrong," defense attorney William Difenderfer said in closing arguments Wednesday.

Prosecutor Edward Borkowski acknowledged Baumhammers was mentally ill but said he was "controlled, deliberate, calculating and selective" in picking victims, avoiding attention and eluding police.

"After things don't work out, he hides behind, "I'm not well,"' the prosecutor said. "You can't do that. That is not legal insanity."

Borkowski said Baumhammers started reading racist and anti-immigration literature in 1999 and saw himself becoming as well-known as Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

Prosecutors said it would have been difficult for someone who was highly delusional to manage Baumhammers' many trips around the world before the killings.

He had traveled to his parents' homeland of Latvia, Japan, Thailand, and France with a monthly allowance from his parents of $2,000 to $4,000 a month.

Copyright © 2001, The Associated Press

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