[UPDATED with Unusual Defense:] Emily and Father Russell Ford, OC Homicides Nos. 12 and 13: Her Ex-Husband Held
UPDATED, JULY 15, 12:30 P.M.: 36-year-old Robert Allan Lehmann is due at Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach today for a preliminary hearing tied to the murder counts he faces for allegedly executing his former wife and father-in-law in May.
It will be lonely at the defense table as a judge last week granted Lehmann's request refusing legal counsel.
The Costa Mesan pleaded not guilty June 24 to two counts of murder and sentencing enhancements for murdering a victim by means of lying in wait and using a firearm.
Victims Emily and Russell Ford
He faces a maximum sentence of double life terms without the possibility of parole if convicted.
Judge Derek G. Johnson granted Lehmann's request on July 8. The defendant also asked for the court's help in accessing the law library and self-help center so he could better prepare for his defense.
In an unusual request, Lehmann asked for a meeting to negotiate with veteran homicide prosecutor Matt Murphy, who was busy (successfully) prosecuting former NFL player Eric Naposki for murder in another courtroom. Lehmann was reportedly given Murphy's number.
Lehmann did not attend a family court hearing the morning of May 3 that granted full custody of his 7-year-old daughter to the girl's 32-year-old mother and the defendant's former wife, Emily Ford, a popular instructional aide in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.
That evening, Lehmann had sent his daughter and current wife out to have ice cream before his ex-wife and her father, 62-year-old Russell Ford, came to pick up the girl as ordered by the court. Lehmann and Emily Ford had been in an ongoing dispute over custody, attorney fees and choice of school concerning their daughter, a special needs student.
Emily Ford's baby with her current husband was strapped in the car when Lehmann allegedly opened fire on the Fords with a semiautomatic handgun. Ten to 15 bullets struck cars and whizzed past employees of a nearby day care facility and and parents picking up their children.
Lehmann was among several people who called 9-1-1 reporting the shootings.
UPDATE, MAY 5, 11:28 A.M.: The Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) just announced that Robert Allan Lehmann will be arraigned today for the murders of his ex-wife Emily Ford and her father Russell Ford.
The 36-year-old Costa Mesa resident has been charged with two felony counts of special circumstances murder with sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a deadly weapon, multiple murders, and lying in wait.
He could get double life prison sentences if convicted.
New details that have emerged from the OCDA arraignment statement below:
- The couple's 7-year-old daughter was not in the home. Lehmann is accused of sending her out of the home with his current wife for ice cream and arming himself with a firearm to wait for his ex-wife and ex-father-in-law.
- When the Fords went to the door, Lehmann is accused of immediately shooting them. The pair tried to run away, but Lehmann allegedly chased them outside and continued firing at them. Both were shot several times in the back and fell to the ground.
- Bullets hit two cars parked directly across the street in front of a childcare center. One bullet hit the passenger door of a vehicle driven by someone picking up their child and another penetrated the driver's door of a second parent's car.
- Shots also whizzed past the vehicle with Emily Ford's baby strapped inside. The baby was unharmed.
- As the Fords lay bleeding on the ground, Lehmann allegedly reloaded his firearm and executed them by shooting them repeatedly in the back and backs of their heads.
- Lehmann's child and Ford's baby are now in the custody of relatives.
Here is that statement:
May 5, 2011
MAN TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR EXECUTION-STYLE MURDER OF EX-WIFE AND HER FATHER AFTER BECOMING ANGRY OVER CUSTODY OF 7-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER
SANTA ANA - A disgruntled man will be arraigned today for murdering his ex-wife and her father by waiting in his home with a firearm and shooting them when they arrived to take court-ordered custody of the former couple's 7-year-old daughter. Robert Allan Lehmann, 36, Costa Mesa, has been charged with two felony counts of special circumstances murder with sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a deadly weapon, multiple murders, and lying in wait. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of two terms of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. Lehmann is being held without bail and is expected to be arraigned today, May 5, 2011, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.
On May 3, 2011, a family court judge ruled in favor of Lehmann's ex-wife, 32-year-old Emily Ford, regarding custody of their 7-year-old daughter, who has special needs. Emily Ford was to pick up the little girl from Lehmann's Costa Mesa home that evening. She arranged for her 62-year-old father Russell Ford to go with her.
Shortly before the victims' arrival to pick up the 7-year-old girl, Lehmann is accused of sending the child out of the home with his current wife for ice cream and arming himself with a firearm to wait for the victims.
At approximately 5:30 p.m., Emily Ford and Russell Ford arrived at Lehmann's home for the custody pick-up. Emily Ford left her new baby, who is not Lehmann's child, in a car seat in her car and did not bring the baby to the door. When the defendant opened the door, he is accused of immediately shooting at the victims. Emily and Russell Ford attempted to turn and run away, and Lehmann is accused of pursuing them outside and continuing to shoot. Both victims were shot several times in the back and fell to the ground.
As Lehmann was shooting, he is accused of hitting two cars that were parked directly across the street in front of a childcare center. One bullet hit the passenger door of a vehicle and another penetrated the driver's door of a second car. The vehicles' drivers were picking up children from the center and were not injured. Shots were also fired past the vehicle where Emily Ford's baby was still inside.
As Emily Ford and Russell Ford lay bleeding on the ground, Lehmann is accused of reloading his firearm and executing the victims by shooting them repeatedly in the back and back of the head.
The Costa Mesa Police Department, who investigated this case, responded to the scene and arrested Lehmann.
Emily Ford's baby and the 7-year-old daughter she shared with Lehmann are in the custody of other family members.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.
UPDATE, MAY 5, 10:37 A.M.: The victims and suspect in Tuesday evening's double homicide in Costa Mesa have been identified. Shot to death were Emily Ford, 32, and her father, Russell Ford, 62. Being held for their murders is the woman's former husband, Robert Lehmann, 36.
The father and daughter came to Lehmann's house in the 3400 block of Santa Clara Circle to pick up her 7-year-old daughter, whose custody a court had just awarded to her now late mother.
The girl was in the house and Emily Ford's baby with her current husband was strapped in the car when Lehmann allegedly opened fire on the Fords with a semiautomatic handgun. The 10 to 15 bullets fired hit cars and whizzed past employees and parents picking up their children from a nearby day care facility. Needless to say, there are many witnesses to this crime. Lehmann was among those who called 9-1-1 reporting the shootings.
The former couple had been in a dispute over custody, attorney fees and choice of school concerning their 7-year-old daughter, a special needs student. The shooting before 6 p.m. Tuesday was about two hours after Lehmann blew off a custody hearing. The court had rescheduled to that time because Lehmann had already missed the original hearing that same morning.
Emily Ford had been an instructional aide with the Newport-Mesa Unified School District since 2007. Having previously worked at Anderson. Mariners, Harper and Sonora elementary schools, she was attached to the preschool program at Paularino Elementary School at the time of her death. District officials have reportedly sent crisis counselors to Paularino and Sonora.
ORIGINAL POST, MAY 4, 7:20 A.M.: Costa Mesa police officers responding to a call of shots fired just before 6 p.m. in the 3400 block of Santa Clara Circle near South Coast Plaza found the bodies of a 32-year-old Costa Mesa woman and her father.
Police later arrested the home's occupant, the woman's former husband, on suspicion of double-murder. The names of the suspect and victims have yet to be released to the public.
The woman's baby was found unharmed in a car parked nearby. She is not related to the alleged shooter.
But his 7-year-old daughter with the dead woman was at the home at the time of the incident. The couple had been embroiled in a custody dispute over their 7-year-old daughter, according to police.
The dead woman's current husband later arrived at the scene to take custody of his baby.
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