State of Missouri vs. Kenneth Baumruk

Missouri Supreme Court Case Number SC83745

Kenneth Baumruk was sentenced to death, again, and returned to the Potosi Correctional Center at 5:00 p.m. on March 19, 2007.

BaumrukKCase Facts: In May 1992, Kenneth Baumruk came to the St. Louis County courthouse for a hearing in his divorce case. At the time, the courthouse did not have metal detectors in place, and Baumruk was able to bring into the courtroom two loaded .38-caliber guns that he had purchased in the state of Washington, where he was living at the time. At the same time, a security meeting was occurring elsewhere in the courthouse.

While his wife, Mary, was testifying that she wished to waive a conflict of interest involving her attorney, Baumruk stood and shot her in the neck. He then shot Pollard in the chest and his own attorney, Garry Seltzer, in the chest and back. He then put a gun near his wife’s head and shot her again, killing her. He next shot at the judge, who fled through the door behind the bench.

By the time Baumruk was subdued, he had shot nine people, including a bailiff and security guard, in various parts of the courthouse.

Baumruk was shot nine times, including two shots to his head. As he was being handcuffed, he asked two police officers if he had killed his wife. Later, in the emergency room, he told a doctor he had shot Mary because of the divorce. After the shooting, which received much media attention, the county paid to double the number of security guards at the courthouse and to install metal detectors there.

Hand down from Supreme Court of Missouri: SC88497, State of Missouri, Respondent, vs. Kenneth Baumruk, an appeal from St. Charles County that was argued Wednesday morning, April 30, 2008, and was resubmitted on briefs after additional briefing on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008.

Overview: A man challenges, on direct appeal, his conviction for first-degree murder and his death sentence for killing his wife during a 1992 hearing in a dissolution proceeding. In a 6-0 decision written by Judge Patricia Breckenridge, the Supreme Court of Missouri affirms the man’s conviction and sentence. Substantial evidence supports the trial court’s findings that the man was competent to stand trial but not able to represent himself. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in using jurors from the county where the case was transferred after a change of venue or in preventing defense counsel from telling potential jurors the specific number of individuals at whom the defendant shot. The trial court did not commit plain error in failing to strike, on its own motion, a certain juror; in allowing a psychiatric expert to rely on a particular conversation as one basis for his conclusion; or in failing to intervene, on its own motion, during the penalty phase closing arguments when the prosecutor made certain statements. Further, the evidence shows the imposition of the death sentence here did not result from passion, prejudice or other arbitrary factor; supports the jury’s findings of 10 statutory factors in aggravation of punishment; and that the sentence is not excessive or disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases.