“It was an abomination, it was pure evil, it was criminal,” Theresa Ford, an elementary school principal, said of the monster who took her husband of 39 years and their daughter. It was an “unconscious” act by someone who popped too many pills and drank too much beer, countered the monster, Ford's former son-in-law Robert Allan Lehmann, who was sentenced today to double life sentences in prison for the senseless slayings of his ex-wife, Emily Ford, and his former father-in-law, Russell Ford.
Robert Allan Lehmann, Guilty of Killing Ex-Wife and Father-in-Law, Faces Double Life in Prison
Emily and Father Russell Ford, 2011 OC Homicides Nos. 12 and 13: Ex-Husband Held
Rebecca Benedict Killed While Picking Up Daughter; Ex-Husband Held
Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard Toohey's sentence does not allow for the possibility of parole, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office.
The morning of May 3, 2011, Lehmann blew off a family court hearing,
where full custody of his then-7-year-old daughter, a special needs
student, was granted to 32-year-old 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 former wife and her father, 62-year-old Russell Ford, came
to Lehmann's Costa Mesa home to pick up the girl as ordered by the
court. Emily Ford's baby with her current husband was strapped in the
the Fords approached, Lehmann opened fire with a
semiautomatic handgun, with 10-15 rounds striking cars and
whizzing past workers and parents at a neighborhood day care facility.
Lehmann also struck the Fords in the ambush, and as they lay on the
ground bleeding, the victims' former husband and son-in-law executed
each by shooting them in the backs and heads at close range. Lehmann then joined several shocked neighbors in calling 9-1-1 to report the shootings.
Spurgeon Intermediate School in Santa Ana, where Russell Ford taught for more than three decades, has since named a building there Russ Ford Hall.
Besides his widow, who also talked of her crying fits and the need to punish Lehmann in her victim impact statement to Toohey, Ford's daughter and Emily's younger sister Robin Gordon told the court through tears,
“There are no words that can describe the horror that I have been through; no words to help you see the chunks of my heart and soul that were
gouged out on May 3rd that I can never have back.”
Lehmann made a statement of his own, apologizing for the pain he caused but blaming the fatal shootings on an overdose of prescription medications washed down with beers that spring afternoon. “[C]ontrary to the verdict,” he said, “I was not conscious when I committed that terrible act.”
No responsibility right to the end. Would you expect more from a monster?
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.