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Settlement approved in fatal obsession lawsuit

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HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A judge approved a settlement Thursday in the bizarre and tragic case of an elderly Florida man whose obsession with a child genius led him to gun down the girl's mother outside her Montana home.

Georgia Smith was shot five times on Jan. 17, 2011, but lived because her daughter, 19-year-old Promethea Pythaitha, covered her mother's bullet-ridden body with her own to force Thomas Kyros to stop shooting.

Police responding to Pythaitha's 911 call ended the nightmarish scene when they killed the 81-year-old Kyros after he raised a gun to them.

Smith and Pythaitha sued Kyros' estate for physical, emotional and punitive damages. Judge Linda Babb's approval of the settlement nearly two years later in Pasco County, Fla., probate court means the mother and daughter are near the end of a long and difficult process, attorney Jason Armstrong said.

"I would say that as much as people can be compensated by money after they've been shot and protected their mother's life, it's satisfactory. But really, how is a person satisfied under those circumstances?" Armstrong said.

The terms of the deal, which was reached in November, have not been released.

Pythaitha in 2005 became the youngest person to graduate from Montana State University at age 13. She became known in the Greek-American community two years later when she received a $10,000 PanHellenic scholarship and in her speech criticized the Orthodox church and its role in Greek schools.

Kyros was retired and living in New Port Richey, Fla. He contacted Pythaitha and Smith after they were involved in a 2007 car accident and offered to help.

They accepted $9,000 from him, but then he began badgering them. He referred to himself as her "pappoulis," or little grandfather, according to the lawsuit.

Kyros said Montana State wasn't good enough for Pythaitha and insisted she leave home and attend an Ivy League college. He came to believe that Smith was holding her daughter back and brainwashing her against him.

Smith's attorney eventually sent Kyros a letter asking him to stop contacting them.

Instead, Kyros drove from Florida to Montana and on Jan. 12, 2011, and introduced himself to Pythaitha outside a Livingston courthouse where the 19-year-old woman had been called as a witness in an unrelated civil trial.

Pythaitha took out a no-stalking order on Kyros, but he ignored it, crashing his vehicle into the fence outside their home five days later.

When Smith left the house to investigate, Kyros shot her in the neck from point-blank range and then shot her four more times while she was on the ground, calling her derogatory names in both Greek and English, according to the lawsuit.

Pythaitha called 911, and while she had emergency officials on the phone, yelled for him to stop and covered her mother's body with her own to force him to stop firing.

Kyros then returned to his vehicle and tossed her a bag with $720 cash and a document that said a trust fund would pay her up to $50,000 a year for tuition to one of 10 specified colleges but only if her mother were dead.

Kyros was in his vehicle when Park County sheriff's deputies arrived. Kyros turned and pointed the gun at the deputies and they opened fire, killing him, according to testimony at the 2011 inquest.

The shooting paralyzed one of Smith's arms, left her with bullet wounds in both legs, and doctors had to remove part of her intestine.

She and Pythaitha filed a $2 million claim, according to Pasco County Probate Court records.

Kyros' attorneys acknowledged in court documents that Kyros shot Smith five times and that the estate is liable for battery against Smith, but said the Florida retiree was insane when he shot her.

The case involved both the Pasco County probate court, which oversees Kyros' estate, and U.S. District Court in Helena, where Smith and Pythaitha filed their lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell ordered settlement talks last year because the damages claimed would exceed the value of Kyros' estate, which was shrinking because of the attorney fees in the continuing case.

Allan Baris, the Montana attorney representing Kyros' estate, said there will now be a final accounting of the estate's worth and other creditors will be paid before Smith and Pythaitha.

After that disbursement, Armstrong will ask Lovell in Helena to dismiss the lawsuit, he said.

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