Citizen Staff Writer
By A.J. FLICK
After presenting Dr. Bradley Alan Schwartz’s ex-wife and another girlfriend yesterday, prosecutors look to wrap up their case Tuesday with a flurry of law enforcement and expert witnesses.
Just what two prosecutorial DNA witnesses will say won’t be known until Pima County Superior Court Judge Nanette Warner rules Monday on a motion to limit their testimony.
Yesterday, Joan Schwartz testified that her ex-husband was “upset” and “angry” that Dr. Brian Stidham quit working for him to form his own practice. Unlike other witnesses, she did not say Schwartz threatened to hurt or kill Stidham.
Schwartz is charged with first-degree murder in Stidham’s death. He is accused of hiring Ronald Bruce Bigger to kill Stidham.
Prosecutors say Bradley Schwartz withdrew $10,000 from his business bank account around lunchtime on Oct. 6, 2004, the day after Stidham was killed. On the note he used to withdraw $10,000, according to testimony, he wrote “money transfer for Joan.”
Bigger was seen flashing around a wad of money within days, according to previous testimony.
Joan Schwartz said at the time, she was getting $10,000 a month in child support and alimony. Bradley Schwartz usually gave her an alimony check from his personal account for $6,500 and sent a personal check to a clearinghouse for $4,000 in child support, which was then forwarded to her, she said.
In October 2004, Joan Schwartz received an alimony check of $3,300, she said. Bradley Schwartz said he was short of cash, she said, because he got $3,000 less than he wanted for a car he sold.
When Bradley Schwartz was arrested, his ex-wife closed his practice, sold his medical building and closed his bank accounts. Bradley Schwartz had $10,200 in his personal checking account, she said, which she took for child support and alimony.
Earlier yesterday, Rachel Atkinson testified that she began dating Schwartz after he “saved” her son’s life by removing a tumor.
Schwartz asked her to take her son to Stidham and then accuse the eye doctor of molesting her, said Atkinson, who made an appointment with Stidham for Oct. 6, 2004.
Atkinson said she didn’t intend to go through with the hoax, she said, so she called Stidham’s office to cancel on the day of the appointment and reached an answering service.
“They said the office is not open today, so I told them I needed to reschedule the appointment and they said, ‘That won’t be necessary because Dr. Stidham passed away last night.’ ”
On cross-examination, defense attorney Maria Davila reminded Atkinson that she told detectives on Oct. 11, 2004, that Schwartz was “floored” by the news.
“You said he was like, ‘This can’t be true, oh my God,’ ” Davila said.
“That’s correct,” Atkinson said.
Another girlfriend, Carmen Fernandez, who testified last week that Schwartz wanted her to help find a hit man, was called back yesterday to testify that Schwartz gave her Stidham’s home and business address and the make and model of his car.
Detective Jesus Lopez of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department testified yesterday that records indicate Schwartz called a convenience store near Stidham’s office on Oct. 5, 2004, around 7 p.m.
Someone called Schwartz’s cell phone at 7:46 p.m. that night from a restaurant on Speedway Boulevard and at 8:19 p.m. from cab driver Thomas Boager’s cell phone.
Prosecutors say Bigger hung out at the convenience store and called Schwartz before the slaying, with one call coming in after Bigger left. They say Bigger called Schwartz twice to meet up with Schwartz after the killing.
On Oct. 6, 2004, around 12:10 p.m., a call came in to Schwartz’s cell phone from the Residence Inn, 6477 E. Speedway Blvd., and a call went out to the hotel, Lopez testified. He said there was a call around 11:33 a.m., but didn’t say whether it was incoming or outgoing.
Schwartz had checked Bigger into the hotel the night before, according to earlier testimony.
Kathleen Bright-Birnbaum, a fingerprint expert with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, testified yesterday that of the fingerprints recovered from Stidham’s Lexus, a stolen Mitsubishi found at the crime scene and Schwartz’s Cadillac Escalade, the only clear prints that matched someone were Stidham’s on his own car.
Check for daily updates of the Schwartz trial, including A.J. Flick’s courthouse blog at: www.tucsoncitizen.com