Man Who Had Podiatrist Killed Gets Life Sentence

Robert Elmo Lee blamed Thomas Shock for wife's death
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2022 2:00 AM CDT
Updated Mar 7, 2023 7:31 PM CST
Wife Died After Ingrown Toenail. He Had Her Doctor Killed
Robert Elmo Lee.   (San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office)
UPDATE Mar 7, 2023 7:31 PM CST

An 83-year-old California man who orchestrated the murder of his wife's podiatrist has been sentenced to life in prison with no hope of parole, CBS reports. Robert Elmo Lee was found guilty last year of hiring three men to kill Dr. Thomas Shock at his home in Lodi in 2018. Prosecutors said Lee blamed Shock for the death of his wife, who died of a foot infection in 2016, years after Shock's alleged failed treatment of an ingrown toenail led to a partial foot amputation. "Mr. Lee twisted a devotion for his late wife into a perverse obsession with Dr. Shock, one that led to inexcusable violence," San Joaquin County District Attorney Ron Freitas said in a statement.

Mar 29, 2022 2:00 AM CDT

In 2014, Bonnie Lee was treated by podiatrist Dr. Thomas Shock for an ingrown toenail. After the allegedly failed procedure, she ultimately had to have part of that same foot amputated, and in 2016, she died of a foot infection. Her husband, Robert Elmo Lee, blamed Shock for her death—and on Thursday, the 83-year-old was found guilty of hiring hitmen to murder Shock, who was fatally shot in his Northern California home in 2018, KCRA reports. Lee was convicted of first-degree murder with special circumstances of murder for financial gain in the death of the 67-year-old doctor, who had been disciplined by the state's Medical Board over Bonnie Lee's procedure in 2016, prior to her death, the Sacramento Bee reports. Shock had retired in 2018.

Per an arrest warrant, it was not clear whether the procedure Shock performed contributed to Lee's death, but after Shock was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds in the doorway of his Lodi home, a longtime friend of Robert Lee contacted police to tell them Lee had blamed the doctor, the Mercury News reports. A sheet from the Medical Board's investigation into the case was also found alongside Shock's body. Raymond Jacquett, Christopher Costello and Mallory Stewart were also arrested and accused in the murder-for-hire scheme; Jacquett, the getaway driver, was convicted of second-degree murder in 2019 and Costello, whose thumbprint was on the Medical Board document, was convicted of first-degree murder last year. Stewart, the gunman, pleaded guilty recently. He and Lee will be sentenced in May. (More California stories.)

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