If you thought the 76-year-old barber who fatally shot a Newport Beach urologist over prostate surgery complications performed years earlier by another doctor must be crazy, get in line ... behind the defendant.
Stanwood Fred Elkus has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity in the January 2013 murder of popular physician and married father of two boys Dr. Ronald Gilbert.
A check of Orange County Superior Court records shows Elkus entered both a standard not guilty plea and the insanity plea, which defense attorney Colleen O'Hara no doubt believes will be bolstered by a PET scan of her client's head last year that found "neurological and psychological disabilities," at least according to documents the lawyer filed.
A trial date has not yet been set, but O'Hara estimates it will likely take a month or two with most of the focus being on mental health issues. If found not guilty by reason of insanity by a jury, Elkus could still spend the rest of his life in a state mental hospital. A guilty verdict without the insanity plea could send him to a state prison for the same term.
Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy, the veteran Orange County homicide prosecutor who drew the case, recently said he'll push to show the Lake Elsinore resident was sane at the time of the slaying.
"We are very confident in our evidence on that point," Murphy told the Orange County Register.
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It was a typical Monday afternoon on Jan. 28, 2013, when "Dr. Ron," as Gilbert's staff, friends and patients knew him, lightly rapped on the examination-room door and entered to see a new patient in his Orange Coast Urology office in Newport Beach. But the elderly man allegedly fired eight rounds into the chest of Gilbert, who was likely dead before he hit the floor.
Elkus dropped the gun after shooting Gilbert and calmly waited until police arrived to arrest him without incident.
He had apparently come to settle what he believed to be a botched prostate operation he underwent at a Veterans Administration hospital decades earlier. While Gilbert had worked at that VA facility, there was no record the Huntington Beach resident performed the surgery. It's believed another urologist with a similar name treated Elkus, who had suffered prostate problems for years.