A neighbor doesn't want her house back in the line of fire.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Gary Bauschatz is coming home after being away some four years, but it's doubtful he'll be greeted by the welcome wagon.
Bauschatz, 55, of North Beverly Avenue, Austintown, has been away since March 1997, when he held police at bay for more than 13 hours when they responded to a report of gunshots' being fired inside his house.
A Mahoning County grand jury indicted him on three counts of felonious assault and one count of firing a gun into a neighbor's home. He was ultimately found innocent by reason of insanity and has been in a psychiatric hospital since December 1998.
Release ruling: On Friday, Judge James C. Evans of common pleas court ruled that Bauschatz can be released from the hospital and go home. His order was based on the recommendation of Linda Blum, a forensic monitor from the Northcoast Behavioral Center in Cleveland.
Bauschatz has complied with all the conditions imposed on him by the hospital and has maintained his medication. He has been restored to mental competency and is eligible for release, she said.
Because he was found innocent by reason of insanity, Bauschatz will not be required to stand trial for the charges, said Michael Maillis, assistant prosecutor.
Neighbor worried: Bauschatz's imminent release did not come as good news to Connie Cross, who lives next door. One of the bullets fired by Bauschatz during the 1997 standoff went through a wall of her family's home and narrowly missed her daughter, who was asleep. The girl was 5 at the time.
"He shot through my daughter's bedroom," Cross said. "I don't want another 13-hour thing where he's shooting at my house."
Bauschatz was not in the courtroom Friday, but he will be brought to court for a lecture from Judge Evans before he is allowed to go home.
"I want Mr. Bauschatz to know that if he looks sideways improperly, an arrest warrant will be issued for him immediately," the judge said. If Bauschatz violates terms of his release, he could be sent back to the hospital for up to 10 years.
Close tabs: Bauschatz's attorney, Maridee Costanzo, said she and a guardian appointed by the county probate court will keep close tabs on Bauschatz once he goes home. She understands the neighbors' concern but hopes they'll be patient.
"It's important that the community knows he suffers from a severe mental illness," she said. It's important, she noted, that he continues with medication and treatment.