Shooting spree suspect ruled incompetent for trial

PITTSBURGH - A man accused of killing five people during a racially motivated shooting spree last month was deemed incompetent to stand trial Thursday.

A judge ordered Richard Scott Baumhammers, 34, transferred to a state hospital for treatment. Psychiatrists will report again in 90 days on his competency to stand trial.

Baumhammers, who is white, is charged with murder and hate crimes in the shooting deaths of a Jewish woman, an Indian man and two Asian men in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. He could remain hospitalized indefinitely if he is deemed unfit.

''Personally, I would be surprised if he were not brought to trial within a reasonable amount of time,'' said William Difenderfer, Baumhammers' lawyer.

Three court-appointed psychiatrists testified that Baumhammers, who briefly ran a Web site opposing immigration from Third World countries to the United States, was incompetent to aid in his own defense.

Prosecutors argued in Baumhammers' competency hearing that the suspect appeared to be holding back information from the doctors who interviewed him. The prosecution asked the judge to allow a psychiatrist hired by the District Attorney's Office to examine Baumhammers, but Baumhammers' attorneys refused.

Dr. David Ness, one of the psychiatrists who interviewed Baumhammers, testified Wednesday that Baumhammers had an ''eerie'' emotional detachment, was paranoid and thought he had been poisoned during trips to Europe.

Baumhammers was treated in 1993 and last year for mental illness, though his attorneys would not say what the illnesses were.


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