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Slain woman’s kin settle with ex-Sun

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

PHOENIX – The family of a slain Phoenix woman who was pregnant with a child by former Suns player Jerrod Mustaf settled its wrongful-death lawsuit against him.

Althea Hayes’ parents, Hazel and Alvin, refused to acknowledge the settlement Thursday, which is sealed in Maricopa County Superior Court.

But court documents show that Hayes, Mustaf and their attorneys attended a settlement conference Aug. 28 before Judge Jonathan Schwartz.

Three days before the conference, Mustaf’s attorney, Daniel Maynard, offered the Hayeses $50,000 to $100,000 – the estimated amount it would cost to defend Mustaf.

Mustaf has not been charged with Hayes’ death, but Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley said Mustaf is considered a suspect and prosecutors are watching the civil case closely.

”We will be utilizing all of the power within this office to obtain all information that may be obtained from the civil suit,” Romley said.

Mustaf left the Suns after the slaying to play basketball in Europe. He recently filed for bankruptcy in Maryland, but The Arizona Republic said he could not be reached for comment.

Mustaf’s cousin, LeVonnie Wooten, was convicted of killing Hayes, but when Romley’s office failed to prosecute Mustaf, the Hayeses publicly accused the basketball player of masterminding the 1993 murder. They filed their wrongful-death lawsuit in 1995.

The Hayeses accused Mustaf of paying Wooten to kill their daughter so he could avoid paying child support and the bad publicity that would come with an illegitimate child, court records say.

The family alleged that her refusal to accept $5,000 from Mustaf and get an abortion was the motivation for the murder.

The lawsuit said Wooten was brought to Phoenix from Maryland ”for the express purpose of carrying out the plan to kill Althea Hayes.”

Documents filed by Mustaf’s attorney, however, conflict with the Hayeses’ story.

Mustaf and Wooten were not close and had not spoken in months before Hayes’ murder, Maynard wrote in a memorandum to the court. Wooten had sued Mustaf after Mustaf hit Wooten in the head with a cellular phone four months earlier, Maynard says.

Wooten came to Phoenix to patch up their relationship, not to kill Hayes, Maynard wrote.

Maynard’s memorandum also says that Mustaf had ”never been told she was pregnant.”

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