Woman held in sister's death was also charged in 2001 slaying — (Chicago Tribune)

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Chicago Tribune

October 2, 2014, 7:22 PM

A woman charged with killing her sister in Carpentersville previously stabbed a man to death in an unrelated case, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity, authorities confirmed Thursday..

Sandra Baumgartner was charged with murder in the stabbing death of her 57-year-old sister, Sharon Baumgartner, who was found in her apartment Monday night.

Sandra Baumgartner, 53, was arrested a short while later after police say they found her hiding in a wooded area. Police say the stabbing took place in the victim’s apartment. The sisters lived in different apartments in the same complex on the 100 block of South Lincoln Avenue, according to police.

At Thursday’s bond hearing, Assistant State’s Attorney Christine Bayer said Sandra Baumgartner had been charged with murder in Tennessee in 2001, where police say she stabbed a man more than 120 times.

Baumgartner was found not guilty by reason of insanity and after being charged with killing Daniel Morgan in his apartment in a suburb of Memphis. News reports from the time say she met Morgan a few days earlier at a music shop.

After her trial, she was eventually allowed to live with her parents over prosecutors’ objections.

Reached at home Thursday, James Wax, a former prosecutor in Shelby County, Tenn. who handled her case, said he wasn’t surprised she’d been accused of another crime. She should have been institutionalized or more closely monitored in Tennessee, he said.

“She shouldn’t have been let loose,” he said.”Of all the cases I had, and I worked there for 30 years, that was the one (I) worried about.”

“I thought she was dangerous,” he said.

At trial, her defense attorney didn’t dispute that Baumgartner and Morgan had an altercation and she stabbed him repeatedly. Instead, court records show, her attorney said she had schizoaffective disorder and did not understand that her actions were wrong.

She was briefly institutionalized but battled for less restrictive conditions.

Wax said he didn’t buy into the idea that she didn’t understand what she was doing when she stabbed the man. He said the crime scene was “like out of one of those slasher movies.”

“It was one of the grossest crime scenes I’ve ever seen,” he said.

At a hearing on Baumgartner’s treatment in 2002, a psychologist who evaluated her said her symptoms were under control and she didn’t belong in a mental institution. He noted that Baumgartner, who had worked as a registered nurse, had received treatment for some nine years before the killing without incident.

Her medication was inadvertently switched from an antipsychotic medication to an antidepressant, the doctor said, which caused her to mentally deteriorate in the months leading up to the stabbing.

Mental health professionals testified that she was well behaved when correctly medicated, court records show.

Baumgartner herself testified that she was an alcoholic who had been attending AA meetings and felt stable when she was taking the right prescriptions.

Tennessee appeals judges ordered an outpatient treatment plan that allowed her to live with her parents, Robert and Carol Baumgartner, while receiving mental health care.

An online obituary shows that her parents once lived in Elgin and later moved to Memphis, where her mother died 2010.

On Thursday, neither prosecutors nor police offered more details about the circumstances of Sharon Baumgartner’s death.

Kane County Judge John Barsanti appointed the public defender’s office to represent Sandra Baumgartner and set her next court date for Oct. 16.

Hinkel and McCoppin are Tribune staff reporters; Ward is a freelance reporter. Freelance reporter Amanda Marrazzo also contributed to this report.

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