An 83-year-old widower in California has been convicted of arranging the murder of his wife’s podiatrist after she had to have her foot partially amputated and later died of an infection.
The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office said on March 24 that Robert Elmo Lee of Lodi, east of San Francisco, was convicted of first-degree murder with a special circumstance of murder for financial gain for his part in the murder of Dr. Thomas Choc.
The 67-year-old was shot dead at his home in Lodi in August 2018.
Elmo Lee was convicted of employing hitmen to take out Dr. Shock after his wife endured ingrown toenails, had her foot amputated, and died four years later. The 83-year-old blamed his wife’s death on the doctor.
Three years after Dr Shock’s death, Elmo Lee stood trial last month and was found guilty on Thursday of masterminding the murder. He will be sentenced on May 16 alongside co-defendant Mallory Stewart.
Elmo Lee’s wife, Bonnie Lee, started going to the podiatrist in 2011. Her foot was partially amputated about a year later. Dr Shock was charged with gross negligence in Ms Lee’s case in 2014.
The California medical board found “repeated acts of negligence” by the doctor in charge of her surgery.
She died aged 73 in 2016 due to a foot infection, but it was never determined that Dr Shock’s actions led to her death. But her husband remained convinced that the podiatrist was the cause of his wife’s death.
After an investigation, Dr. Shock admitted wrongdoing, gave up his podiatrist license and retired from his office in June 2018. He had started the practice in 1985.
Prosecutors said Elmo Lee hired Christopher Costello, who was 26 at the time, to kill Dr. Shock.
Costello introduced Mallory Stewart, then 27, and Raymond Jacquett, then 26, to Elmo Lee. Costello was paid by Elmo Lee, with Stewart hired to be the shooter and Jacquett acting as the driver.
Jacquett drove Stewart to Dr. Shock’s home in August 2018, where Stewart shot him dead. Next to her body, a document was found, setting out the 2014 medical board report and Ms Lee’s case. Costello’s fingerprint was found on the document.
Police obtained the IP addresses of those who had previously downloaded the medical report, finding that Elmo Lee had done so a month before Dr Shock died.
Neighbors told law enforcement that Elmo Lee was unable to continue after his wife died.
Neighbor Mario Vanotti told the Lodi News-Sentinel in 2018 that “his wife was his soul mate” and that “he visited his wife at the cemetery every day”.
Elmo Lee denied killing the doctor, but told an investigator that “he didn’t like Thomas Shock and was glad he was dead”.
He and the three young men were arrested in September 2018.
Last month, Stewart pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and a weapons charge because he was the one who pulled the trigger.
Costello was convicted last year for his part in the assassination plan and Jacquett was sentenced in December 2019 to 15 years to life in prison.
“The criminal justice system is complex and time-consuming to ensure the constitutionality of everyone involved,” said San Joaquin County District Attorney spokeswoman Elisa Bubak. The Washington Post. “A murder trial of this magnitude, with four co-defendants, was not unusual in its length.”