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Man who orchestrated revenge killing of podiatrist after his wife died from foot infection learns his fate

Booking photo via Robert Elmo Lee

Robert Elmo Lee (Lodi Police Dept.)

An 83-year-old man in California will spend his remaining years behind bars for orchestrating the slaying of his late wife’s podiatrist, whom he ultimately blamed for her death. Judge Lauren P. Thomasson on Monday ordered Robert Elmo Lee to serve a life sentence of life without the possibility of parole for the murder of 67-year-old Dr. Thomas Shock, authorities announced.

Lee was found guilty last year of first-degree murder with a special circumstance of murder for financial gain in the August 2018 slaying of Shock. The doctor was fatally shot outside of his home by three men Lee paid in a murder-for-hire plot. Co-defendant Mallory Stewart confessed to being the shooter and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with a weapons enhancement. Christopher Costello and getaway driver Raymond Austin Hassan Jacquett IV have also been convicted for their roles in Shock’s murder.

Christopher Costello, Mallory Stewart, Robert Elmo Lee, and Raymond Austin Hassan Jacquett IV (KXTV screenshot)

Christopher Costello, Mallory Stewart, Robert Elmo Lee, and Raymond Austin Hassan Jacquett IV (KXTV screenshot)

Police found Shock suffering from gunshot wounds to the chest, head, and arm on Aug. 1, 2018.

Investigators at the scene found a single page from a California Medical Board document near Shock’s body at his home in Lodi, which is located about 40 miles south of Sacramento. The document, which featured Costello’s fingerprint, concerned Lee’s wife, Bonnie Lee, going to Shock as a patient for an ingrown toenail in 2011 at the age of 73.

The document was a complaint alleging that Shock’s repeated “gross negligence” in treating Bonnie Lee led to her foot being partially amputated in 2014. She then died from an infection in her foot in 2016.

Authorities said it was unclear if Shock’s treatment had anything to do with Bonnie Lee’s death — he was investigated and placed on probation by the Medical Board of California — but a friend of Robert Lee told authorities that he blamed Shock for his wife’s death. Shock surrendered his medical license in 2018.

Investigators were able to obtain the IP addresses of individuals who had downloaded the California Medical Board document in the weeks prior to Shock’s murder, revealing that Lee had done so just one month prior to the shooting, The Washington Post reported. In a subsequent search of the Lee home, authorities said they discovered the other pages of the document found at the scene of Shock’s murder.

“Mr. Lee twisted a devotion for his late wife into a perverse obsession with Dr. Shock, one that led to inexcusable violence,” District Attorney Ron Freitas said in a statement following the sentencing hearing. “I want to commend former San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Edward “Ted” McGarvey for his tenacity in seeking justice for the Shock family, as well as the Lodi Police Department for their investigative skill.”

Alberto Luperon contributed to this report.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.