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1:25 PM, May. 20, 2011
Written by Jaclyn O’Malley
Mary “Arlene” Baymiller and her husband Charles “Skip” Baymiller had been best friends throughout their nearly 43-year marriage, where they cherished their two children and frequently drove across the country for vacations.
They were inseperable, and longtime friends described their love as “radiating” off of them.
Charles Baymiller was a successful developer and contractor, owning a restaurant and a winery. At age 73 he was retired, but managed several rental properties while maintaining homes with his wife in multiple states. She was retired after teaching kindergarten for 31 years in the Fresno, Calif., area where her co-workers said she was a highly requested teacher known for her calm, peaceful classes.
But Charles Baymiller’s growing dementia and his forgetting to pay bills caused his wife severe anxiety and sleepless nights, which prompted her to begin taking the prescription medications, Paxil for anxiety and Ativan and Ambien for sleep. When she complained of negative side effects to her medical provider, her dosage was increased.
Her lawyer, Tom Viloria, said during her Friday sentencing hearing where she was granted probation for up to five years for killing her husband that her drug cocktail caused a “catatonic drug-induced state” which caused her to stab her spouse hundreds of times in the throat in their Incline Village bedroom the night of Oct. 4, 2009 or early morning of Oct. 5, 2009. Mary Baymiller then stabbed herself and tried to overdose on her medications in a suicide attempt. Viloria said she has no recollection of the stabbings due to the drugs’ affects. He said because there was no blood spatter on the walls, that the stabbing was not in a violent frenzy because the blood would have flown off the blade and into the wall.
The couple’s adult children, Scott and Kathleen Baymiller, both of New Mexico, begged Washoe District Judge Robert Perry Friday to grant their mother probation, saying their father would not have blamed her for his death, and would be upset their family is in such emotional turmoil. Both said through tearful testimony that are not angry with their mother, and do not hold her responsible for his death.
Deputy District Attorney Eliott Sattler said a sentence of probation would send the wrong message to the community.
“What does it say to the next person in a difficult situation with a loved one,” he told Perry. “We are living in an aging society. What does that say to them? To condone what she did?”
Perry suspended Mary Baymiller’s sentence of two consecutive terms of 22 to 96-months and ordered her to be on probation for at least five years. He warned that he was hanging a large sentence over her head if she violated the conditions of her probation, including continuing mental health treatment and medication management and taking her drugs as prescribed. He said there was no reasonable explanation for the slaying “other than the medications involved,” and said she was punished enough.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not sorry,” Mary Baymiller told Perry, adding she had a good marriage and deeply loved her husband. “I apologize to my children. It bothers me terribly how upset they are and here I am tearing down their lives.
“The reason I am standing here today is strictly because of the medications,” she said. “I have never been violent or has there been violence in my marriage.”
Clinical psychologist, Dr. David Antonuccio, was one of multiple doctors who gave Baymiller a mental evaluation. He said that she was displaying negative drug side effects prior to the killing such as agitation and sleep deprivation and had visited her doctor to address them. Instead, a nurse practitioner increased her dosages. He said that was not an appropriate adjustment. Antonuccio said that within weeks, the drugs could have caused her to be in a drug-induced state, where she would be in a “fog-like, sleepwalking” state and later have no memory of her actions. He said the known side effects of Paxil are irritability, aggessiveness and suicidal tendencies.
“It’s likely the medications that Mrs. Baymiller was taking caused her to stab her husband,” Antonuccio testified. “…I believe she had no awareness of what she was doing, and could not form intent. She was not responsible. The drugs caused her to act that way.”
Mary Baymiller spent more than one year in the county jail following her arrest, which Viloria said caused her to become “institutionalized.” He said her family is not going to sue the drug makers because they just want to move on. He said Mary Baymiller, if allowed by the state probation office, will move to New Mexico and live with her children.
“I want to see her happy on some level again,” her daughter Kathleen Baymiller testified through tears. “She is nearly 75 years old. She will never be the same, I know that for all of us, but it can be better.”
Scott Baymiller said the night his father was killed, he talked to his parents on the phone. He said his mother was worried about taking a test to renew her driver’s license and that due to a lack of sleep forgot items she studied. She also was stressed that it had snowed and she would have trouble driving to Reno from her Lake Tahoe-area home. Charles Baymiller also had an upcoming appointment where he would be examined for his dementia problems, his family said.
“I got angry with my mother and told her that with the problems with dad we didn’t need her anxiety,” he testified. “…I said I would arrange to put her in a psychiatric facility until he got better … she asked me if I was giving up on her. I said ‘no.’
“In 71 years my mom hasn’t even said a curse word or received a traffic ticket,” he said. “She’s a great citizen. It makes no sense … dad wouldn’t be angry at mom. He would be hurt our family is going through this and wouldn’t want mom to be punished. He loved my mom. He would be sad our family is hurting like this.”
Scott Baymiller said his father told him in an earlier conversation that something was wrong with him, and asked his son to take care of his mother and sister if the elder Baymiller was unable.
EARLIER: Judge Robert Perry sentenced an elderly woman Friday to probation in the slaying of her husband of 42 years, a sentence the couple’s children had requested.
Mary Baymiller told Perry how remorseful she was for the slaying of Charles “Skip” Baymiller, 73, and said she believes it was strictly her medication, including Paxil and sleep drugs, that led to his stabbing.
“The killing was done in a catatonic, drug-induced state,” her attorney Tom Viloria said.
Baymiller, who now lives in Reno, said she felt like she ruined her children’s lives and that she loved her husband a great deal.
The Baymiller children also pleaded with Perry to grant her probation, saying it’s what their father, a developer and winery owner, would want.
Perry sentenced Mary Baymiller to two consecutive terms of 22 to 96 months, but suspended them, giving her a term of probation not to exceed five years. He said his sentence was to send a message to others and warned her of the months in jail she faced should she violate the terms of her probation.
Part of the probation’s condition is that she take her prescriptions as prescribed and continue mental health counseling and drug management. Experts who evaluated her recommended she be weaned off medications altogether.
Baymiller, 74, formerly of Incline Village, had pleaded guilty to a felony count of voluntary manslaughter with the use of a deadly weapon. The Tahoe Daily Tribune reported that Baymiller, who was originally charged with open murder, entered the plea on Jan. 28.
Baymiller was a longtime kindergarten teacher known for her calmness and peace in class. She was accused of stabbing her husband, Charles Baymiller, 73, up to 200 times in a rage possibly motivated by her mental anguish about his dementia and financial worries, according to court records.
She suffered from sleeplessness — resulting in her taking the sleep medication — over Baymiller’s increasing forgetfulness, including his neglecting to pay bills.
Charles Baymiller was found dead in his Incline Village home on Oct. 5, 2009, by Washoe County sheriff’s deputies who were checking on the couple’s welfare.
Mary Baymiller also had received stab wounds that authorities said were self-inflicted and superficial, according to court records. She had told hospital staff that she intentionally tried to overdose on her prescription medications in a suicide attempt, records show.
When deputies entered her blood-covered bedroom, they found her husband deceased in his bed, while she was lying on her stomach next to him.
The couple’s son, who lives in another state, had summoned deputies to their home after he could not contact them. He said his mother was having panic attacks and nervous breakdowns because of his father’s dementia, records show. The son also said she was “overly worried about money” and was not sleeping.
According to his autopsy, Charles Baymiller had been stabbed up to 200 times, with 37 wounds to his throat. He also had defensive wounds, records show.