For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
MAN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT THE POSSIBILTY OF PAROLE FOR EXECUTION-STYLE MURDER OF EX-WIFE AND HER FATHER OVER CUSTODY OF 7-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER
SANTA ANA – A disgruntled man was sentenced to life in state prison without the possibility of parole 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, 37, Costa Mesa, was found guilty by a jury of two felony counts of special circumstances murder with sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a deadly weapon, multiple murders, and lying in wait.
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 sent the child out of the home with his current wife for ice cream and armed 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 immediately shot at the victims. Emily and Russell Ford attempted to turn and run away, and Lehmann pursued them outside and continued to shoot. Both victims were shot several times in the back and fell to the ground.
As Lehmann was shooting, he hit 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 reloaded his firearm and executed 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.
During the sentencing today, a colleague of Russell Ford and Emily Ford’s sister, delivered an emotional statement to the court describing how agonizing it was to learn that their loved ones were taken away by a selfish, violent act and what wonderful people they were.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.