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Man killed ex-wife, father-in-law in dispute over daughter, D.A. says

Police tape and yellow tarps surround Robert Lehmann's house in the 3400 block of Santa Clara Circle in Costa Mesa, where he allegedly killed his ex-wife and her father in a child custody dispute

Robert Alan LehmannA prosecutor made clear that Robert Alan Lehmann loved his daughter and wanted her to receive the best possible education and treatment for her development disabilities.

But that love and concern ultimately fueled a heated battle between him and his ex-wife, whom he stands accused of shooting dead alongside her father in front of his Costa Mesa home, prosecutors asserted in opening statements last week.

Lehmann, 37, is accused of two counts of murder. The charges include sentencing enhancements for lying in wait and for multiple murders. If convicted, he faces two life sentences in state prison without the possibility of parole.

On May 3, 2011, as he waited for Emily Ford, 32, to arrive and take custody of their 7-year-old special-needs daughter, Lehmann took antidepressants and drank beer before loading a magazine into his Beretta 9mm handgun, prosecutor Matt Murphy told jurors.

Murphy said Lehmann sent a text message to his ex-wife: "I've sent them away so they don't have to see."

She replied that she would soon arrive at the house on Santa Clara Circle.

When Ford arrived, Lehmann shot her in the chest and later shot her father, Russell Ford, through his arm raised in self-defense, Murphy alleged.

Lehmann then loaded another magazine and shot Russell Ford in the buttocks, back and back of the head, as the 62-year-old lay face down at the end of the driveway, Murphy said.

He then allegedly walked to where Emily Ford lay and emptied the magazine into the back of her head, the prosecution said.

Lehmann returned to his house, where he called 911, then "collapsed" on his lawn and waited for police, defense attorney Jeremy Goldman said.

In a 911 recording played for jurors, Lehmann told a dispatcher that he took medication.

"I took an overdose," Lehmann said in a groggy voice. "I'm going to go ahead and lay down now."

When asked by the dispatcher whether the shooting victims needed paramedics, Lehmann replied, "No, they're dead."

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--Lauren Williams, Times Community News

Photo: Police tape and yellow tarps surround Robert Lehmann's house in the 3400 block of Santa Clara Circle in Costa Mesa, where he allegedly killed his ex-wife and her father in a child custody dispute; Robert Alan Lehmann. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times; Costa Mesa Police Department

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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