A high-profile forensic psychiatrist was shot and killed outside his Phoenix office. His death is being investigated in connection with three other shootings that recently occurred in the area.
On Thursday, May 31, witnesses described hearing a loud argument followed by gunshots near Scottsdale and Bell roads in Phoenix, Arizona. The shooter fled the area. The shooter was described as an adult male, bald, wearing a dark colored hat with a short brim. Dr. Steven Pitt was pronounced dead at the scene.
Phoenix psychologist David Weinstock, who worked with Pitt on forensic cases, speculated that Pitt may have been killed because of his work on criminal cases. He told the Arizona Republic, “I could be wrong, but the timing and circumstances sound a lot like someone who was waiting outside his office for him. . . . I suspect this was one who either got out after Steve helped put him away or someone whose case he was working on who felt threatened about what Steve could do.” Weinstock said that he and Pitt had previously discussed the risks involved in their lines of work.
Pitt’s killing is being investigated for a possible connection with three other people who were recently shot in the Phoenix area. The other victims were Veleria Sharp and Laura Anderson, paralegals at a Scottsdale law firm, and Marshall Levine, who worked at a nearby mental health facility.
Dr. Steven Pitt, 59, was a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix. Pitt’s expertise included mental state at the time of the offense, competency to stand trial, serial rape, sexual harassment, psychic harm, wrongful termination, violence risk assessment, and officer involved shootings. He also focused on murder for hire, psychiatric autopsy, impaired professionals and domestic homicide. Pitt was known for his work in conducting forensic psychiatric evaluations, particularly those combining videotaping and transcription. Pitt worked with the Phoenix Police Department Homicide and Missing Persons Unit and consulted on numerous forensic psychiatric cases throughout the U.S. Pitt was retained as an expert by both the government and defense in criminal cases, and by defense and plaintiff’s attorneys in civil matters. Pitt was known for his work on the investigations of the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, the Columbine school massacre, and the Phoenix Baseline Killer.
The district attorney who worked on the JonBenet Ramsey case, Alex Hunter, explained why he retained Pitt as an expert, “When I talked to different people about him, he came with really high marks. He gave us insights in terms of ‘profiling’ people that we were looking at that I thought were beyond all of our expertise, important, helpful stuff. He’s tough and tenacious, and he isn’t just a book kind of guy. He was particularly valuable in giving us suggestions about the order and timing and nature of the questions we’d be asking the Ramseys. He always has had extremely strong feelings about the case, which, to put it mildly, he wasn’t afraid to share.” Pitt’s public statements about the case strongly suggest he believed Patsy Ramsey to be the killer, an opinion that is both unsupported by any physical evidence and contradicted by DNA evidence that caused Hunter to exonerate the Ramsey family.