Trials & Litigation

Death Sentence Upheld in '92 Court Murder; Judge, 2 Lawyers, 5 Others Also Targeted in Shooting

Convicted, after a lengthy procedural history that included three competency hearings and two trials, in the 1992 murder of his wife during a courtroom divorce hearing, a Missouri man shot twice in the head in the fray has lost a pro se appeal focused largely on claimed failures by his legal counsel.

In an en banc ruling (PDF) Tuesday, the state supreme court upheld a lower court’s denial of post-conviction relief to Kenneth Baumruk on multiple grounds concerning his lawyers’ conduct before, during and after trial. Baumruk’s legal counsel was not required to pursue every conceivable defense option and exercised reasonable judgment in determining trial strategy, according to the opinion, which also found that Baumruk had not sufficiently grounded some of his claims to require the court to consider them.

In addition to his wife, Baumruk also shot at, but did not kill, her lawyer, his own lawyer and the presiding judge during the hearing. Then, as he pursued the judge, who had fled through a back door to the courtroom, he also shot at a bailiff, two police officers, a security guard and an investigator with the prosecutor’s office, the opinion recounts. In all, he opened fire on nine individuals, hit four and killed one.

His conviction and death sentence stand, the supreme court held Tuesday.

Hat tip: Legal Profession Blog.

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