Legal Briefs

Unexpected Discovery and Disclosure in the Stidham Murder


Brick Storts, the lawyer for Dr. Bradley A. Schwartz, is fighting to keep Schwartz's 2002 indictment on federal drug charges from the ears of the jurors who will determine if Schwartz masterminded and financed the Oct. 5 murder of his former ophthalmology practice employee Dr. David Brian Stidham.

Schwartz and his then-lover Lourdes Lopez, a Tucson lawyer who has since ratted on Schwartz, were indicted on 77 counts of drug fraud in a scheme to fuel Schwartz's addiction. Schwartz, Lopez and former Schwartz employee Laurie Espinoza scored major victories by each winning a slap on the wrist--a diversion plea in which their slates would be wiped clean after successful completion of probation.

Testimony in one of two malpractice suits pending against Schwartz shed light on his dope habit.

The cases don't shut down just because of Schwartz's change of residence--the Pima County Jail--since his Oct. 15 arrest. Lawyers for a Tucson boy and his parents, who say the boy was harmed by poor care provided by Schwartz, deposed Schwartz on April 12. Carter Morey and Gregory G. Wasley, attorneys who are pressing the malpractice claim on behalf of Vicente Valenzuela and his parents, Eduardo and Delia Valenzuela, have reviewed records of Schwartz's stays at Cottonwood de Tucson, Health South Rehab, Sierra Tucson and Rush Behavioral Health.

In a disclosure filed in Superior Court on May 16, Morey and Wasley say that Dr. Rubin Bressler is expected to testify that "it is unlikely that Dr. Schwartz took 10, 12 or 15 hydrocodone tablets at one time at night when he first started taking the drug, but he could have ended up using these quantities over time as his tolerance (addiction) to them developed.

"It is likely, based on the amounts of hydrocodone that Dr. Schwartz obtained through fraudulent prescriptions, Dr. Schwartz's health care records and Dr. Schwartz's deposition testimony, that Dr. Schwartz developed a tolerance to hydrocodone and was able to take increased amounts of the drug at one time.

"The withdrawal symptoms that Dr. Schwartz experienced in the morning after taking quantities of hydrocodone the night before probably included hand tremors, sedation and decreased mental function. The morning withdrawal symptoms could be alleviated on an acute basis by Dr. Schwartz taking additional hydrocodone in the morning. The ingestion of hydrocodone caused lethargy and drowsiness, which is consistent with the observations of Laurie Espinoza."

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