A former doctor was convicted Wednesday of the attempted murder of a Newport Beach attorney in an April 2017 case.
Richard Lee Austin, 68, will be sentenced on September 25th. Austin was convicted of stalking and attempted kidnapping from attorney Limor Lehavi in 2018.
Wednesday's verdict was the third trial for attempted murder. Jurors in two previous trials could not agree on whether or not Austin wanted to kill Lehavi when he presented them with a gun in their office three years ago.
"I just feel relieved," said Lehavi. "This has been a long, long, long process that my family and I went through."
Austin had previously been involved in an altercation with a driver following a car accident. The driver then asked for damages. Austin then sued his auto insurance, arguing that his policy should have covered the costs. Lehavi defended the insurance company and won the case. Austin also personally filed a lawsuit against Lehavi, which she won.
Prosecutors said Austin was "obsessed" with her.
In 2017, Austin appeared in Lehavi's Newport Beach office after switching companies and calling the office several times under a pseudonym. Lehavi said he claimed he was from Chicago and had been referred to her, but her receptionist saw his caller ID and said he said something strange.
Concerned for her family's safety, Lehavi said she was escorted by staff to her car where she saw Austin driving off in a rental car. Employees called the police.
Austin's attorney Karren Kenney said Wednesday that the trial had been an "uphill battle" from the start, arguing that one of the investigators allegedly had a past history of wrongdoing at a previous police department and was involved in a fatal shootout However, to “switch off” defense by telling jurors. Kenney also said that Judge Michael Cassidy did not disclose that he was a police officer.
"The fight isn't over yet," said Kenney. “We fought from start to finish. I am not surprised by the way the defense has been treated. "
Kenney said she plans to file a new litigation motion.
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