The Murder of Dr. David Stidham

What the county attorneys knew, when they knew it and what they did about it

Four former Pima County prosecutors are fighting to restore their reputations after they were disciplined for not sharing information about what they knew about the murder of Dr. David Stidham on Oct. 5, 2004. Their appeal to the county Merit Commission is the first public venue for criminal and civil cases arising from the murder and has sharpened the focus on what the former prosecutors knew from their friend and former prosecutor, Lourdes Lopez, the ex-lover of Dr. Bradley Schwartz, the man accused of hiring a hit man to kill Stidham.

While much of this story has been previously reported, it has been in pieces. Here's the picture that's emerging, from Merit Commission testimony, police transcripts, court documents and other research.

Dr. David Stidham had completed his day, seeing the young patients he comforted with toys, and enjoying an office visit with his wife and their two young kids. He had called the parents of one of his surgery patients to check on her condition. He lectured to University of Arizona medical students.

It wasn't unusual for Stidham, a beloved children's ophthalmologist, to zip back to his North First Avenue office in the evening to use a computer. Stidham set his office alarm at 7:24 p.m.

When a cleaning crew found him outside, his scrubs were drenched in blood.

Stidham, 37, was ready to drive home in his 12-year-old Lexus coupe when an assailant thrust a knife into him 16 times and bashed his skull, leaving a two-inch fracture. Pima County Sheriff's Det. Maurice Othic arrived at the medical plaza, 4741 N. First Ave., at 11:11 p.m., some 21 minutes after he was called by the deputies who were already at the scene. The white Lexus was gone, but deputies found the car registration near Stidham's body.

At a Thai restaurant on East Grant Road, Dr. Bradley A. Schwartz, the ophthalmologist who had recruited Stidham from Houston, dined with a date, Pima County sheriff's deputies say. Reports from detectives say they were joined at the dinner, between 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., by a man Schwartz introduced as "Bruce." The date reportedly said Schwartz asked Bruce how the scrubs worked out, and then took him to the Hilton on East Broadway Boulevard, where he paid for Bruce's room with his American Express card. This all came after a call, according to deputies, from a convenience store near Stidham's office, when a man fitting Bruce's description used the store phone, saying his car was "broke." Records show calls from the store to Schwartz's cell phone at 6:57 p.m.

Bruce is Ronald Bruce Bigger.

Sheriff's detectives and Pinal County prosecutors say that Schwartz, infuriated that Stidham left their practice in 2002 and took a flood of special-needs patients with him after Schwartz's federal indictment on drug charges, hired Bigger, a homeless, drug-using criminal from Indiana, to kill Stidham.

Schwartz, 40, and Bigger, 38, were arrested Oct. 15. They are in the Pima County Jail; Schwartz's bond is $2 million; Bigger's is $1.5 million. Both assert that they are innocent. After initial representation by the talented and expensive Michael Piccarreta, Schwartz, like Bigger, has a publicly provided defense lawyer.

Brick Storts has begun a spirited campaign to plant seeds of doubt on behalf of Schwartz, positing theories of other killers based on statements from witnesses in jail and within Tucson's criminal scene. He and Richard Lougee, appointed to represent Bigger, will be in court with Schwartz and Bigger on May 13 for a hearing on several motions, including one that seeks to compel the release of a tape of an inmate who says he has information to show, in the inmate's words, the "Doc is innocent."

With an anticipated seven-week trial set to begin Nov. 8 before Judge Nanette Warner of Pima County Superior Court, details of the murder and what people--including what Schwartz's former lover and her friends in the Pima County Attorney's Office--knew before Stidham was killed are coming into sharper focus through a county civil service hearing and volumes of investigative transcripts. Testimony before the Merit Commission, which is being asked to determine if County Attorney Barbara LaWall acted properly in firing one prosecutor and suspending three others, has exposed claims that Schwartz harbored such a grudge against Stidham that he obsessively talked about wanting Stidham dead.

On the night Stidham was murdered, Det. Othic got a briefing at the scene and then met with two deputies before driving to Stidham's Via Ventana home near Sabino Canyon. Two more deputies joined them. The front door was unlocked, but had a safety chain. Nobody responded to repeated rings of the bell, to loud knocks or loud pronouncements. Deputies opened an unlocked garage door and went into the home, and then opened the front door. Using a flashlight, two deputies went into the master bedroom.

Daphne Stidham was asleep. She was awakened, shortly after midnight, when a deputy pointed his flashlight at her.

"Is my husband OK?" she asked deputies, according to their reports. "Was he shot?"

Deputies, according to their reports, were struck by that question, because they said they had not yet told her he was dead. They also noted that the house phone was unplugged and that a copy of Stidham's last will and testament was on a couch in the bedroom.

The morning news on Oct. 6 was full of reports of the murder of a pediatric ophthalmologist, and Lourdes Salomón Lopez had a sick feeling that day. A former prosecutor who was indicted along with Schwartz in 2002, Lopez had not completely severed her volatile relationship with Schwartz. She said, according to interviews with sheriff's detectives and in Merit Commission testimony, that Schwartz repeatedly vowed to see Stidham dead. She asked at least two friends to secretly warn Stidham.

Lopez was occupied with depositions the day after the murder.

"I heard, you know, somebody's been, a man has been identified as, you know, killed outside of a medical plaza on First and River and thought, wow," Lopez told sheriff's Det. Jill Murphy on Oct. 28. "And then they said his white Lexus is missing. I said that's Dr. Stidham.

"That's Dr. Stidham and Brad did it, so I was flipping out internally."

In an interview with Murphy and Det. Dawn Barkman, the sheriff's spokeswoman, on Oct. 8, Lopez said she made her own inquiry the day after the murder.

"As I was coming back to my office, I called Dr. Stidham's office. I hadn't heard who had been identified, and I called his office pretending to be a parent that needed to see the doctor, just to see if it was him," Lopez said, according to transcripts of the taped interview. "And I was hopin' to God it wasn't gonna be him, and sure enough, they said there was a tragedy, and that Dr. Stidham had been killed. So I immediately knew that it was, it was probably Brad, and uh, and I don't believe that Brad Schwartz actually killed Dr. Stidham. I believe that Dr. Schwartz had somebody or a couple of people kill him. And that's because he had said to me over the last several months that he was gonna kill him. He was very upset about the fact that Dr. Stidham had left the practice and took his entire pediatric ophthalmology practice."

Under indictment, with his license and prescription-writing authority suspended, Schwartz saw his practice plummet.

"He was losing money and he was ashamed and he was upset and he was angry and he was, and he repeatedly--and I have to be really careful about my words, I don't want to mislead you--repeatedly told me that he was going to kill Dr. Stidham. And I never thought that he would actually do that," Lopez said.

Lopez told Murphy and Barkman that she "confided in a good friend of mine, and I had told him, I said, 'You have to do me a favor. You have to call Dr. Stidham's office anonymously and just tell him to watch out.' And this friend of mine said, 'Are you sure, Lourdes?' And I said, I don't, I don't want to, but I think you should do it. And then one thing led to another, and, you know you get busy, and I figured maybe I'm overreacting, so I'm not gonna scare him."

Lopez had pleaded with Jeff Fairbanks, a part-time Rural Metro firefighter and construction worker. He balked.

She also said she told another friend, but in that Oct. 8 talk with Det. Murphy and Det. Barkman, Lopez declined to provide his name, because it would cause her friend trouble at work.

Partly in response to prodding from David Berkman, the chief criminal deputy county attorney who was conducting his own administrative probe of which deputy county attorneys knew about Lopez's suspicions, Murphy called Lopez again. They spoke for a second time on Oct. 28, 13 days after deputies arrested Schwartz and Bigger.

"You asked me how I'm doing. I'm not doing well because mostly because of the predicaments that they've (friends at the Pima County Attorney's Office) put themselves in," Lopez told Murphy, according to a transcript of the taped telephone interview on Oct. 28. "And of course I feel responsible although it's not my fault, but you know, it's like a cost of being my friend, people's lives get ..."

"Yeah," Murphy cut in. "And along those lines I need to ask you again ... who else did you tell prior to the death?"

Lopez: "Just, just Jeffrey."

Murphy: "Well, you had told me that you told somebody else."

Lopez: "Yeah, I told Paul, Paul Skitzki."

For Berkman, and his boss, LaWall, the Democrat who has been in office since 1997, Murphy's mission was accomplished. LaWall fired Skitzki and suspended Janet Altschuler, Nicki DiCampli and Brad Roach. Skitzki has since moved on to a job in the public defender's office at $71,406 a year, nearly $10,000 more than what he was getting as a prosecutor who had been honored for his high volume of felony trials. Altschuler resigned, the first to go, from her $63,857-a-year job. She is in private practice in an office in the same complex where Stidham was murdered. (Altschuler's parents are partners in the corporation that owns the office complex. Her father, Dr. Gerald Altschuler, has his medical office there.) DiCampli resigned from her $53,455-a-year job last month. And Roach, praised for his work in sex crime prosecution, resigned last week. He had been paid $62,192 a year.

Each has appealed the discipline. Altschuler has agreed to keep her hearing closed. But Skitzki, DiCampli and Roach are pressing their appeals in open session before three members of the five-member Merit Commission, Pima County's civil service panel. The hearings are providing a framework in the criminal case and a $20 million claim Tucson lawyer Gerald Maltz has filed on behalf of Daphne Stidham and her children. For those purposes, as well as the personnel actions, the hearings are amplifying the questions of: What did you know? When did you know it? And what did you do about it?

Skitzki, DiCampli and Roach, all close of friends of Lopez, contend that LaWall acted in retribution and retaliation for having to give up a high-profile case that was conflicted out and handed to prosecutors in neighboring Pinal County. They say LaWall is obsessed with her public image and fretted over losing out on the case's attendant publicity to such a degree that she delayed announcing the conflict until after the Nov. 2 election. LaWall, however, faced minimal opposition for her third term, with weak and underfunded challenges from Green Party candidate Claudia Ellquist and Libertarian David Euchner. LaWall, even with a modest campaign budget, won each of the county's 400 precincts while piling up 77 percent of the 369,321 votes.

LaWall appeared before the Merit Commission for parts of two days, led through narratives by one of her civil division lawyers, Wendy Petersen, and then facing questions from Roach, who is representing himself, and Chris Kimminau, the attorney representing DiCampli, and Leo "Chip" Plowman Jr., the former assistant public defender who is representing Skitzki.

It was Roach who pressed the issue of the Stidham murder case presenting a conflict for the Pima County attorney. He believed he had a conflict, partly because of his intense dislike for Schwartz. Others in the office, including Skitzki and DiCampli, who have a 20-month old child together but are not married, could be called as witnesses for Schwartz. That status as possible witnesses would trigger a conflict of interest.

LaWall repeatedly said DiCampli, Roach and Skitzki put their friendship and loyalty to Lopez above their duties and responsibilities as deputy county attorneys. Skitzki asked his supervisor if he could visit Schwartz in jail. He believed it to be an act of returning simple human kindness. Schwartz visited Skitzki in the hospital after Skitzki suffered a heart attack in late January 2004 and helped as a conduit between Skitzki and his doctors. He also previously checked Skitzki's eyes and examined Skitzki's children.

The three should have come forward, LaWall said, with information about what they knew from Lopez about Schwartz before and after the murder. LaWall was unaware of the extent of the friendships and was unaware of conflict questions. She was out of state for a prosecutors' conference. When she returned, she was incensed, as were the supervisors in her office, that Skitzki asked to visit Schwartz in jail and that Roach had invited to Lopez to his Halloween Party. Berkman told him to "uninvite" Lopez. LaWall said Skitzki, Roach and DiCampli should have come forward with information about what they knew from Lopez about Schwartz's alleged threats. DiCampli said she never was privy to that information. And Kimminau got LaWall to concede that she had no direct evidence that DiCampli received from Skitzki what Lopez told him about her suspicions concerning Schwartz.

Their position, on the value of information after the murder, was helped somewhat by Det. Murphy, who testified that while any information could be helpful, it wasn't necessary in zeroing in on Schwartz and Bigger. And Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a Democrat, said after the two were arrested that Schwartz was the top suspect beginning Oct. 6, the day after Stidham was murdered.

At the Merit Commission, Lopez was the most anticipated and star witness, a position she'll likely retain for the criminal trial because of her troubled relationship with Schwartz.

She came with her own lawyer, Richard Martinez, after they had a quick consult in the county cafeteria, six floors below the commission's hearing room. Witness counsel may be a rarity before a civil service panel that routinely rules on cases involving sewer plant operators, street pavers and jail guards, but it wasn't unexpected because of what Lopez may later say in the criminal and civil cases. Martinez is politically connected, long a friend and adviser to U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva. Lopez retained Martinez the night before her appearance.

Lopez, 36, met Schwartz in 2000, and the relationship turned romantic and intimate in the early part of 2001. She told investigators that she liked Stidham, who treated her nicely.

"He just wasn't a bad guy," Lopez told Murphy and Barkman three days after Stidham was killed. "You know, he wasn't the kind of person that talked about other people or, you know, I realize now how uncomfortable it must have been for Dr. Stidham, because I was there in the beginning, and I didn't know Brad was married. And here he is having an affair with me and this, I mean, I can imagine that poor guy, what he felt like. But he never, he's just a nice man. You know, he was a nice man."

A Brooklyn native, Schwartz by all accounts had sophisticated and high-level training. He performed exceptionally well in medical school and won coveted fellowships in ophthalmology surgery. He and his wife, Joan, were married in New York City in 1991. Schwartz worked at the Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh before he, his wife and their son and daughter moved to Tucson. They had another daughter in July 2000.

Schwartz worked for a Phoenix-based group, but that relationship ended badly. He and Joan bought a Pinnacle Ridge home in the Catalina Foothills in July 2001 for $583,375. And they used a real estate company they created to buy a building for his office, Arizona Specialty Eye Care, in the Tucson Medical Park on 5190 E. Farness St.

He recruited Stidham, Harvard-educated and also highly trained in pediatric eye care and specialties, in November 2001.

Eleven months later, Joan Schwartz filed for divorce. In the split, she was awarded $9,200 a month in spousal maintenance and $2,000 a month in child support, court records show.

Lopez joined the county attorney's office in 1999, a year before she met Schwartz. They became engaged and she took classes to convert to Judaism for the marriage. Her career as a prosecutor ended in the fall of 2002, when her federal indictment was pending.

Lopez's own marriage, to Daniel Lopez, ended after less than six years in early 1995. She was then a student at the UA and had worked as a receptionist. He worked as a carpenter and at an auto-detailing shop. They had a daughter and son, now 15 and 13. Court papers show she received between $200 and $265 a month in child support. They lived on South Westmoreland Avenue, in one of Menlo Park's rougher blocks, and divided minimal debts, a 16-year-old Pinto wagon and a 6-year-old Nissan Sentra.

Her friends say that Schwartz held money over her as power. She also pointed out to Det. Murphy that Schwartz provided the furniture for her law office. She told investigators how he bought her a car, only to park at her Barrio Viejo office one day to wait for her return. He then took the car from her, leaving her unable to pick up her kids. After one fight in the summer of 2003, they were both cited for domestic violence, a day when she called her friend Brad Roach to pick her up where she was dumped out near the Carl's Jr. restaurant at Congress Street and Interstate 10.

Schwartz, according to Lopez's friends and her comments to detectives, lied to her and repeatedly cheated on her. He got popped for shoplifting at the Tucson Mall while she was with him. He demanded from another woman an exclusive relationship while he was engaged to Lopez. He cruised Internet dating sites. When his drug addiction spun out of control, he enlisted Lopez and his office manager, Laurie Espinoza. He would write prescriptions to them, and they would turn over drugs--pain killers, Vicodin and hydrocodone.

The Drug Enforcement Agency raided Schwartz's office in December 2001. Schwartz was indicted in September 2002 on 77 federal counts, Lopez was charged with two counts, Espinoza with 36. Espinoza had other complaints against and disputes with Schwartz.

Lopez and Espinoza took plea agreements that resulted in diversion--the completion of requirements such as community service and a fine during a probation period that ended with a clean slate and no conviction. Lopez retained Walter Nash, Tucson's top drug lawyer, and pleaded guilty to one charge of receiving hydrocodone fraudulently and paid a $2,500 fine and put in 100 hours of community service. Her case was dismissed on Nov. 1, 2004, a fact she noted with trepidation when talking to Det. Murphy on Oct. 28. Lopez hoped that Murphy wouldn't have to notify the county attorney's office of her comments about the Stidham murder until after the federal drug case was closed.

Under repeated questioning at the Merit Commission, Lopez said shortly before her indictment she was called into a meeting with LaWall and Rich Unkelsbay, then the top prosecutor, and told that she would need to resign or be fired. She immediately quit.

It was after the drug raid that Stidham bailed, setting up his own practice.

Asked at the Merit Commission to characterize her relationship with Schwartz, Lopez, in measured tones, said several times: "My relationship with Dr. Schwartz had its ups and downs."

As part of the conditions imposed by Magistrate Bernardo Velasco of U.S. District Court, Lopez was to have no contact with Schwartz during her probation. But during the Merit Commission, she acknowledged that not only did she have contact with Schwartz, she represented him on two legal matters: a traffic citation in City Court and a personal injury claim. She said the same to Schwartz's lawyer, Brick Storts, who is arguing in court papers that Lopez violated the attorney-client privilege when she talked to sheriff's detectives and others about Schwartz.

In a letter that Storts included in the criminal court file, Lopez stated on March 4, 2005, that she represented Schwartz on the personal injury matter beginning Aug. 17, 2004, and until March 3, 2005. She represented Schwartz on the traffic case from June 16, 2004 through Sept. 27, 2004. Velasco, according to the federal court file, ordered Lopez and Schwartz on July 2003 to "refrain from having contact of any kind" with one another until the cases were closed, which for Lopez was last November.

Responding to Skitzki's lawyer, Chip Plowman, at the Merit Commission, Lopez said Schwartz didn't "specifically" tell her of plans to kill Stidham.

Plowman: "Did he ever drive you to the scene?"

Lopez: "No!"

Plowman: "Did he ever tell you how it would happen?"

Lopez: "Not specifically, no."

Plowman: "Did he ever tell you he would hire a hit man?"

Lopez: "He indicated that he would have another individual do it"

Plowman: "Did he ever tell you that he would make it look like a car jacking?"

Lopez: "He did say that to me on at least one occasion."

Plowman: "When was that?"

Lopez: "I don't know, sir."

Plowman: "You don't remember when that was?"

Lopez: "I don't know specifically when that was, sir."

Petersen, there to defend LaWall's actions, directed Lopez back to the statement she gave sheriff's detectives.

Lopez told Murphy and Barkman that she didn't believe Schwartz, although "these conversations that I'm talking about, about him saying he's gonna kill him, were constant."

Lopez told the detectives that Schwartz "blames Brian (Stidham's middle name and the name his family and friends used) for taking his practice, for taking his role here, for kinda coming in and being like the new guy, who everybody loves and trusts and, and he's angry. He's just, he's angry as can be. He's just angry."

Murphy: "So you know Brad Schwartz pretty much better than anybody I've talked to."

Lopez: "I know him better than anyone in this whole world."

Murphy then asked how frequently Schwartz talked about wanting Stidham dead.

"I would imagine that when we were together, and remember, we broke up in May (2004), it was, there was a period of time where it was pretty much every night when we could get ready to go to bed, I just, it was constant," Lopez said. "It was like, 'I'm gonna fucking get him. That fucking guy's gonna die. He's gonna fucking die.' And, you know, he always asked me about evidence. I used to be a prosecutor."

Lopez said she tried to reason with Schwartz when he said he would just pay someone to do it. "I would have conversations with him like, 'Morally, you can't do that. You're not God. You don't get to decide who dies.' That one didn't work. So then I would go, 'Well, Brad, you know what happens in the movies when people get hired to kill? They always want more money. ... They always have something over you. There's always gonna be somebody pressing you when you least expect it. The police always have an angle you never think of.'"

Murphy asked about specifics.

"He definitely said it was gonna be in the office," Lopez said. "It was definitely gonna be robbery or a car jacking, so that it would appear as though it was random, and it was just, you know, a victim and it wasn't anything else."

Lopez admitted to Murphy, in the interview three days after Stidham was murdered, that she still loved Schwartz.

"Of course I love him," Lopez said. "I, I know that I can't ever trust him or be married to him, but I love him to death."

Murphy: "Yes."

Lopez: "I wouldn't do anything to hurt him, not one thing. If there was anything at all that I could do, I would protect him, but Dr. Stidham is dead, and he didn't deserve to die. He didn't."

In the Oct. 28 interview, Lopez acknowledged that she put money ($200) into Schwartz's jail account, reasoning that it was done as a favor for and at the request of his ex-wife, Joan, who would repay Lopez.

She also told Murphy that she and Skitzki, the only prosecutor to be fired as a result of this case, talked about what people say when they are upset.

"How many times," Skitzki asked her once, "have you said you wish so and so was dead?"

"Well," Lopez responded, "I'm sure I've said that many times about people. I said that about my ex-husband one time, you know, 'I wish he was dead,' because I was so pissed at him."

Lopez's voice cracked for the only time during her Merit Commission testimony, and she briefly got teary, when she was asked to read that statement, given to detectives earlier. She quickly bottled the emotion.

Her ex-husband, Danny Lopez, is dead, shot in the head during a violent drug battle on the southside of Omaha, Neb., on March 9, 2004, along with another Tucsonan, Maria Ojeda, 33. The killers were convicted last month.

Lourdes Lopez told sheriff's detectives that Schwartz and her ex-husband "were becoming better friends." Schwartz, she said, gave Danny Lopez the money, including for a rental car, to go to Nebraska last year to see the baby he had with his girlfriend.

Danny Lopez's girlfriend suspected "Danny and him have something going on where Danny was gonna kill Dr. Stidham," Lourdes Lopez said. "And I was shocked. ... She never said for sure. And then when you start thinking about it afterwards, you start thinking about conversations that he had, Brad had said he and Danny went to Brad's office with another guy who had degenerative eye disease of some sort. The guy had just gotten out of prison. And Brad was gonna help him by treating him. I think that was the guy that was gonna help either kill Dr. Stidham with Danny, and I'm sick to my stomach to think that I was married to somebody that would do that. And that guy was either gonna do it, or Danny was gonna do it with him."

Lourdes Lopez spoke to Skitzki about Schwartz and the great frequency of the threats. She recalled, in the Oct. 28 interview by Murphy, that Skitzki told her: "Lourdes, come on, we're talking about fucking killing somebody!"

Lawyers had her repeat the line during the Merit Commission hearing and she repeatedly explained: "I relayed to Mr. Skitzki my concerns; it was in the context of telling a friend about my suspicions. We discussed it. We both came to the same agreement that it was impossible that that would happen. ... We both came to the same agreement and the some conclusion that it was impossible that Dr. Schwartz would actually kill Dr. Stidham."

Lopez told Det. Murphy that she saw Schwartz two days before Stidham was killed, and he spoke to her in the days after. He went to her rented house, in the central foothills about a mile-and-a-half from his Summerlin Village Villas apartment at Paseo de los Rios, at Swan and Camp Lowell roads.

"That night he called me and said, 'I need to come over to your house to show you something. By this time, I was pretty hysterical inside, and I was really worried that he was gonna come to my house and sorta look at me to see how I was doing," Lopez said.

"See, Brad trusts me. He doesn't trust anybody. He trusts me partially because of what's happened between the both of us, and I never took a plea to testify against him. ... And Brad showed up at my house, and he saw my brother-in-law. He knows him. He walked into my house, went onto the computer. He went onto, like, uh, the newspaper and pulled up the article that said, it identified his name and he goes, 'I didn't have anything to do with that, Lourdes.' And I looked at him, and I said, 'I need you to leave my house.' And he asked me to please go outside with him. And I only went as far as my brother-in-law could see me and he said, 'I had nothing to do with it. Look at me in the eyes. I didn't do anything.'"

Schwartz called her three times the following night to "tell me he didn't do it."

Detectives considered having Lopez wear a wire, according to the transcript from the Oct. 8 interview.

For the Merit Commission, the issue is not the criminal case, but if Skitzki, DiCampli, Roach and, later, Altschuler broke county rules and policies in the County Attorney's Office. Plowman said there are no policies, written or otherwise, to violate. Skitzki, Roach and DiCampli contend they are being treated differently from other prosecutors who also socialized with Lopez.

LaWall condemned the four for having "messy personal lives," and at one point called them an "insidious group of friends," a phrase she later conceded she didn't fully understand. She said she could not believe Skitzki, in part, because he had lied to two women in his personal relationships. She zeroed in what Skitzki knew, and--in LaWall's mind--passed onto DiCampli and Altschuler.

E-mails buttressed her case.

Lopez and Skitzki shared e-mail conversations on the day after Stidham's murder, but they apparently only discussed his request for a job recommendation at the Pascua Yaqui tribe. It was his e-mails to others that show he knew about Lopez's suspicions.

To Altschuler on Oct. 7, Skitzki wrote: "Spoke to Lourdes she is convinced he had some involvement. Says he described the exact scenario. HE came over to tell her he had nothing to do w/it."

In testimony, Skitzki said he meant nothing by capitalizing "he," and that, given his poor typing skills, probably just hit the shift key.

DiCampli, in an Oct. 7 e-mail to Anne Elsberry, a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge William Browning, wrote: "I had no idea it was that doctor and yes I am thinking same thing you are. Called Paul (Skitzki) who said did not want to talk about it but yes she is ok. So Lourdes come close to 85-90% with Paul and he says she is ok."

Skitzki said he told Lopez after the murder that she must go to the police, and that he would if she didn't. He later called 88-Crime, the anonymous crime tip line, a move roundly criticized by LaWall.

Georgia Brousseau, the retired TUSD principal who has been on the Merit Commission since 1991 and now is its chair, closed the session with her own questions for Lopez.

Said Brousseau: "Well, none of us believes that we know a person who would murder anyone, and none of us believes that when words are uttered in passion that they necessarily will happen. I understand that, but the question that is being raised in this case is hindsight. Given the fact that you had this theoretical conversation with Mr. Skitzki prior to an actual murder, should he have then become immediately concerned and taken you by the hand and taken you to the police?"

"I understand," Lopez said. "I guess hindsight, Mrs. Brousseau, is the best way to put it. Certainly if I had the knowledge that I have today, things would have been remarkably different."

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