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More details emerge in double homicide

A memorial fund has been set up to help the slain Ford family, who were victims of the shooting.

May 05, 2011|By Lauren Williams, lauren.williams@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — Robert Lehmann was waiting for them with a gun, authorities alleged.

The 36-year-old Costa Mesa man was home alone, having sent his 7-year-old daughter and his current wife away for ice cream.

That's how a release from the Orange County district attorney's office painted the alleged facts of the events leading up to Tuesday night's double homicide outside Lehmann's northern Costa Mesa home.

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Lehmann's ex-wife and former father-in-law — Emily Ford, 32, and Russell Ford, 62 — came to the house in the 3400 block of Santa Clara Circle to take the court-ordered custody of the former couple's 7-year-old girl, the release said. Lehmann then allegedly shot both of the Fords dead.

Prosecutors said his execution-style actions included chasing the Fords into the street while firing at them and then shooting them again as they lay on the ground bleeding.

They said bullets went by the vehicle containing Emily Ford's 3-month-old she had with her new husband; others hit two cars parked across the street by a child care center.

Lehmann, originally scheduled to be arraigned at the Central Jail in Santa Ana on Thursday, had his arraignment delayed until June 24.

He 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 faces a maximum sentence of two life terms in state prison without the possibility of parole if convicted on the charges, the D.A.'s news release said.

Just hours before the shooting, a family court judge had awarded Emily Ford, a teacher's aide at Paularino Elementary School in Costa Mesa, sole custody of their little girl, according to police and court records.

Lehmann failed to appear at Tuesday's custody hearing, records show.

The judge also awarded the mother sole decision-making powers regarding the 7-year-old's education, and ordered Emily Ford to pick up her daughter at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The shooting occurred around 5:30 p.m.

The court records paint a more complicated picture about how the former couple's relationship gradually became strained after their separation seven years ago.

The battle over the daughter's custody began amicably when the two separated in 2004 after 10 months of marriage, but tension began around the time when Emily Ford wanted a divorce and was set to remarry in 2009, according to court documents filed by Emily Ford's attorney.

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