weather Current

5-Day Forecast
   MarketPlace:                         Apartments    Classifieds    Coupons    Employment    HeraldAutos    HeraldHomes    Personals    Travel
Speak Out!
Health & Science
Fantasy Sports
Today in History
Special Reports
York County Land Use
Latino Community
War with Iraq
Battlefield Iraq
Looking Back
Fast Forward
Clover Herald
Fort Mill Times
Lake Wylie Pilot
Yorkville Enquirer
Chester Cty. Herald
Special Sections
Business Directory
Advertiser's Index
Herald Store
TV Column
Day Tripper
Photo Galleries
Our Town
Homework BUZZLine
Guest Book
Contact Us
Staff Directory
Job Openings
South Carolina Press Association
Member of the
South Carolina
Press Association

The McClatchy Co.

Local News Saturday, May 22, 2004

Print Version
Email Article
Speak Out!
Pittman defense wants access to drug documents
Team seeks to add Calif. lawyer

By Jason Cato The Herald
(Published May 22 2004)

Attorneys for the boy charged with the 2001 deaths of his grandparents in Chester County are seeking all documents a drug company may have provided the prosecution team as well as others the company may be hiding.

On Friday, Chester County Public Defender Yale Zamore filed the second of two motions this week seeking any information given to 6th Circuit Solicitor John Justice or prosecution witnesses by Pfizer, the maker of the antidepressant Zoloft, to help in his defense of Christopher Pittman.

Pittman had been taking antidepressants, including Zoloft, for about five weeks before fatally shooting Joe Frank Pittman and Joy Roberts Pittman while they slept in their rural Chester County home in November 2001. He later set the house on fire and fled to Cherokee County in a family car. He was 12 at the time.

Now 15, Pittman is being tried as an adult and could receive up to life in prison if convicted. His trial is scheduled to begin June 14.

In one of the motions, Zamore alleges a document provided to one of the prosecution's key medical experts by a Pfizer attorney in January 2002 was only made available to the defense team this month.

In addition to other similar documents provided by Pfizer representatives, defense lawyers also are seeking to use Pfizer documents revealed in other cases but which are still confidential. They allege these documents could help prove that Zoloft sparked a psychotic reaction that led to Pittman's violent behavior.

"If Pfizer has been providing stuff to the solicitor, as I'm led to believe, then we're entitled to it ourselves to aid in our defense," Zamore said. "Plus, there's a possibility Pfizer has things that they've also not given to the prosecutor."

Justice said he's been provided documents from private attorneys who've handled cases for drug companies, but not that much from companies themselves. He called the motions vague and said he's not sure what the defense is after.

Karen Barth Menzies, a Los Angeles-based lawyer, has fought civil product liability cases against antidepressant makers for years. An application was filed this week to add her to the defense team.

"A multibillion dollar company is using its power and influence to make sure this kid gets convicted to protect the reputation of its drug," Menzies said about Pfizer. "They give only the good side and continue to hide the bad side. I know the bad side, and that's why I'm being brought in."

Menzies is the second attorney who specializes in antidepressant cases to request permission to help in Pittman's defense. Andy Vickery, a Houston-based attorney, already has filed an application to join the team. Circuit Court Judge Paul Short Jr., who will preside over the trial, has said he would not approve Vickery's request until meeting with him in person. The same will likely be true for Menzies.

Her firm, Baum Hedlund, has handled cases against antidepressant makers since 1990, including representing the widow of 1960s rock star, Del Shannon, and the family of comedian Phil Hartman and his wife, Brynn.

Justice was unaware of Menzies' application but said it does not intimidate him.

"They can bring on Johnnie Cochran," Justice said. "I don't care."

A hearing on the discovery motions is expected to be held next week at the Chester County Courthouse, although no date has been set. Depending on when the hearing is scheduled, Zamore expects Menzies, Vickery, or maybe both, to be in attendance.

Jason Cato 329-4071


Speak Out!  
Share your thoughts about this topic in our public forum. Please read the rules before posting.

You must register to post. You do not need to register to read the forum.

Your Comments:

If you are not already logged in, clicking "Post" will ask you for your username and password. If you are not registered, then you can click "Register" and you will be taken to the registration page.


More Local...

Jobless rate a campaign priority for hopefuls
Pittman defense wants access to drug documents
Wal-Mart in plans for Tega Cay
Summer travel surge expected
Plebe makes a slick finish
In Brief - May 22, 2004
Point-and-click grocery shopping attracting some area consumers
Students honor retiring coach
Gallery to take its art statewide
Calling 911 from a cell? Know your location
Making a doggone clean environment
Fort Mill students stock up on financial advice
In Brief - May 21, 2004
Sen. Gregory to hold town meetings
Board likes South Pointe High
Winthrop could benefit from aid for women's colleges
Knights: 5 more years in Fort Mill
Four times the pomp 'The quads' will be grads, too
Making East Town a safer, nicer place to live
County fires director of economic development
Graduate working to help Catawba Indian families
Man charged in ballpark incident investigated before
In Brief - May 20, 2004
In Brief - May 20, 2004
Public pooper-scoopers give dog owners a helping hand
Sept. 11 hearing full of emotion, criticism
Head of local United Way to leave
City living could get costlier
$150K bond set in criminal sexual conduct case
Chester family donates land for new technical school A legacy looks to the future
Survey targets sidewalk needs of neighborhoods
Foster care system 'broken,' report says
Portion of road renamed in legislator's honor
In Brief - May 19, 2004
Bill may cost rural businesses
Police charge local man with criminal sexual conduct
Marking 50 years of desegregation
Health officials report 6th rabies case
Poor air-quality prompts revision of plans for study
Fort Mill School Board discusses higher taxes to shrink class size
Sharpe to retire, take job on CBS pregame show
Solicitor requests additional assistance
Not all graduates will get diplomas
One killed, three injured in head-on crash
Separate by choice
An early birthday blessing
In Brief - May 17, 2004
Little kids & big tractors
Candidates offer ideas in running Sheriff's Office
Past principal's legacy to live on
Woman works to buy headstone for ex-boss
Bucking the trend
Why fast food? Because it's easy, local patrons say
Beer taken from York golf course
Little kids & big tractors
Fuel prices hit retailers, drivers hard
Senior Olympians make splash
Soldier's return from Iraq is sweet relief for waiting wife, mother
On the road to ideas
York educator puts finishing touches on 3-decade career
Shelter grows from her love of animals
New comics
Pool of applicants tops 30
In Brief - May 15, 2004

Copyright 2004 The Herald, South Carolina