Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

County to discuss Stidham settlement

$2.3M payout in doc’s murder topic of closed meeting

Pima County supervisors are scheduled to discuss on Tuesday a $2.29 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the widow of slain eye surgeon Dr. Brian Stidham.

The board is set to discuss the settlement in executive session. Public discussion and action may take place afterward.

The county on Monday agreed to pay Daphne Stidham and her two children on behalf of former prosecutor Paul Skitzki. In exchange, the county, County Attorney Barbara LaWall and former prosecutor Lourdes Lopez were dropped from the lawsuit.

The civil trial had been set to begin on Tuesday.

It has yet to be determined how much of the settlement will come from the county and how much from insurance funds.

Skitzki declined to comment on details of the settlement. His lawyer fees have been paid by the county because he was a public servant when Brian Stidham died.

Daphne Stidham claimed county prosecutors failed to warn Brian Stidham, 37, that another doctor wanted him killed. Brian Stidham was stabbed to death Oct. 5, 2004.

Former eye surgeon Bradley Alan Schwartz, 42, and Ronald Bruce Bigger, 41, were convicted in separate trials and sentenced to life in prison in Stidham’s death. Both are appealing their convictions.

Lopez, Schwartz’s ex-fiancee, testified that she told Skitzki before the slaying that Schwartz threatened to have Stidham killed. Skitzki has denied knowing about the threats before the murder.

LaWall testified in county hearings over Skitzki’s firing that Stidham would be alive had Lopez or Skitzki called police and warned them of the threats.

Daphne Stidham, who now lives in Texas, settled earlier for an undisclosed amount with the owners of the North First Avenue medical complex where Stidham was slain.

Skitzki is now an assistant county public defender.

Lopez is awaiting word from the Arizona Supreme Court on whether she will be disbarred.

> For complete coverage of the Stidham case, go to the Stidham murder blog at www.tucsoncitizen.com/blogs.

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