Suit against Thorpe’s therapist delayed
The civil suit against a therapist who treated deranged killer Scott Harlan Thorpe, which was to start Tuesday, has been bumped to June.
George Heitzman, a former Nevada County contract therapist, was treating Thorpe when Thorpe went on a rampage Jan. 10, 2001, at the county’s Department of Behavioral Health Services, killing three people.
Nevada County, which was Heitzman’s co-defendant, was dropped from the suit in a Dec. 15 hearing after it was argued that the county fulfilled its legal duty by paying workers’ compensation to families of two workers who were killed.
Two of the plaintiffs, Nick and Amanda Wilcox, parents of murdered Laura Wilcox, 19, along with several others, plan to appeal Judge John Darlington’s decision to remove the county from the suit.
Thorpe walked into the behavioral health services office in Nevada City and began shooting. Also shot and killed, along with Wilcox, was caregiver Pearlie Mae Feldman, 68.
“They argued that workers’ comp is the sole remedy,” Nick Wilcox said. “In effect, they say it’s just another day at work. The county claimed Laura knew the risks.”
Thorpe next drove to Lyon’s Restaurant in the Brunswick Basin and killed manager Mike Markle, 24.
County employees Judith Edzards, who was shot and wounded by Thorpe, and Pamela Hunter Chase, who was stalked by Thorpe in the months before the shooting, are also plaintiffs in the combined civil suit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages.
The plaintiffs contend that Heitzman took no steps to prevent Thorpe, who was refusing to take anti-psychotic medication, from having access to weapons or to alert authorities, despite being aware that he had become increasingly paranoid.
At the time, Thorpe claimed the FBI was harassing him and that Lyon’s was poisoning his food. He originally pleaded guilty to the killings, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity during the sanity-trial phase of the case last May. He was sentenced to life at the Napa State Hospital.
The tentative trial date is June 2 and the trial is scheduled for 12 days. Attorneys in the case could not comment because of a judicial gag order.
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