Eye surgeon-turned-prison inmate Bradley Schwartz told jurors Tuesday he was simply waiting for his turn at a drinking fountain when a fellow inmate attacked him and called him a "Dirty Jew."
"He wheeled around 180 degrees and struck me in my face. From what I remember, I went down to the ground and he started pummeling me," Schwartz testified in Pima County Superior Court.
Tuesday was the first day in the aggravated assault trial of Jeffrey Allen Wood, 41, a convicted murderer who is charged in a September 2008 attack on Schwartz, who is serving a life sentence for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the 2004 slaying of fellow eye surgeon Dr. David Brian Stidham.
Schwartz estimated Wood struck him between 20 and 30 times and kicked him at least twice.
As a result, Schwartz said the floors and roofs of his eye sockets were fractured, along with the bridge of his nose. He no longer has a sense of smell or taste because nerves were severed and his right optic nerve and the muscles that control the movement of his right eye were also damaged. That eye has sunk in and turned outward and he suffers from double vision, Schwartz said.
Schwartz, 46, testified he didn't fight back, because, as a doctor, "I find violence disgusting. I find it abhorrent."
While jurors are aware Schwartz once pleaded guilty to prescription fraud, they have only been told he is currently in prison on a Pima County felony case - not what the charge was. They also were not told what Wood is in prison for.
Assistant Pima County County Public Defender Sandra Bensley told jurors Schwartz was so angry at being convicted he instigated the incident with Wood so he would have grounds to file a lawsuit against the state. Wood acted only in self-defense, Bensley said.
While Schwartz's account of the event has changed somewhat over time, he attributed it to the brutality of the attack causing disorientation.
He said he believes he was wrongly convicted.
Schwartz's civil lawsuit against the state is pending.
Judge John Leonardo is presiding over the current trial.
Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or email@example.com