Thorpe civil case settled |

Thorpe civil case settled

A civil trial between Laura Wilcox’s family and the therapist who counseled her murderer has been averted due to a settlement.

The civil suit that was set for trial Wednesday sought unspecified monetary damages from defendant George Heitzman, a former contract therapist for Nevada County who was treating Scott Harlan Thorpe.

On Jan. 10 2001, Thorpe walked into the Nevada County Department of Behavioral Health Services in Nevada City and began shooting. He shot and killed 19-year-old Laura Wilcox and 68-year-old caregiver Pearlie Mae Feldman.

Thorpe next drove to Lyon’s Restaurant in Brunswick Basin and killed manager Mike Markle, 24.

Heitzman’s Sacramento-based attorney, Kathleen Williams, did not comment on the settlement conditions, but said Heitzman and the county have no admission of liability for Thorpe’s actions.

“(The killings) were a very sad situation,” Williams said.

Thorpe claimed in court the FBI was harassing him and Lyon’s was poisoning his food. He originally pleaded guilty to the killings but was found not guilty by reason of insanity in May, 2003, and sentenced to life at the Napa State Hospital.

Wilcox’s parents, Nick and Amanda Wilcox, filed the suit against Nevada County, Heitzman and Thorpe. Other plaintiffs included county employees Judith Edzards, who was shot and wounded by Thorpe, and Pamela Hunter Chase.

The suit alleged the county and Heitzman took no steps to prevent Thorpe from having access to weapons or to alert authorities despite being aware he had become increasingly paranoid and was refusing to take anti-psychotic medication.

Thorpe did not respond to the suit and forfeited. In the first phase of the court process, Judge John Darlington removed the county as a defendant. That left Heitzman as the lone defendant for the trial that was scheduled to start Wednesday.

Amanda Wilcox, contacted at her home Wednesday afternoon, said she was unavailable to comment for the story at this time.

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