A doctor was convicted Wednesday for attempting to kill a Newport Beach attorney whom he held responsible for his pancreatic cancer.
The jury began deliberating Tuesday afternoon and found Richard Lee Austin guilty of attempted murder late Wednesday morning. He condemned reforms for attempted murder and was armed with a weapon on behalf of a crime.
It was Austin's third trial against the prosecution.
A mistrial was called on October 3, 2018, when the jury was bogged down for the attempted murder of Austin, 67, from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Another jury was bogged down in March 2018 for attempted murder.
Austin attorney Karren Kenney said she intends to file a new trial because she said Orange County Supreme Court Justice Michael Cassidy prevented her from telling jury members about a deadly official, who killed one of the detectives assigned to the case in Newport Beach while serving as a police officer in Antioch.
Kenney said Cassidy failed to disclose his background as a police officer.
"I couldn't get into that, and I think that was because Cassidy was a cop," Kenney said.
If the attorney had known about his background as a cop, she would have said she moved to have him disqualified and looked for another judge, Kenney said.
Kenney argued that video surveillance of the office building where the incident took place showed that her client "never had a gun on him. Our argument was that he never had a gun when he was in the building and his behavior was in the." Lobby was inconsistent with someone there to kill … He was wearing a wig but he was undergoing chemotherapy and had lost a lot of his hair and it was stained. "
Austin was convicted of attempting to kill attorney Limor Lehavi on April 4, 2017. In the previous trial, Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Boyd argued that the defendant was frightened at the last moment he saw the victim with a colleague.
"He had this gun, it was loaded, and he was ready to kill," Boyd told jury in closing arguments on Austin's 2018 trial.
When Austin showed up at Lehavi's office he had "zip ties, tape, and a wig," as well as "ammunition, a police scanner, and binoculars," Boyd said.
Austin also stole a license plate from a car at John Wayne Airport and placed it on his rental car in hopes of avoiding detection, argued Boyd.
"He was disguised to hide his identity," Boyd said. "Why?" Because he wanted to go. … This is a man on a mission, a man
on purpose. "
Austin spent 2.5 hours in a target area before going to Lehavi's office, and he called the law firm several times to "make sure she was there," Boyd said.
But Austin "made a mistake" calling Lehavi's office from his personal phone, advising the attorney of his presence and asking her to ask staff to take her to her car, which thwarted Austin's plans, Boyd said.
Austin was convicted in March 2018 of stalking and attempting to kidnap the victim after years of contentious litigation over a hype in San Diego.
However, the jury in the trial acquitted Austin of assault with a lethal weapon and pegged it 8: 4 in favor of attempted murder with intent and intent.
Austin is at least seven years old. He is due to be sentenced on September 25th.
According to prosecutors, Austin's troubles began in October 2008 when he caught a street rage confrontation in San Diego that led to his arrest for carjacking, robbery, and vandalism. He pleaded guilty to vandalism and was ordered to pay compensation to Cheryl John's victim.
Austin closed a civil lawsuit with Johns for $ 250,000 but later sued Farmers Insurance as his policy should have covered the settlement. Lehavi successfully defended Farmers Insurance in the lawsuit and Austin was sentenced to pay $ 60,000 in legal fees.
Austin appealed and then sued Lehavi on a conspiracy. Lehavi won again and Austin's legal fees rose to $ 100,000.
Austin became "obsessed" with Lehavi and "personally blamed her", later still blaming her for his cancer diagnosis, prosecutors said.
During a settlement conference in the civil process, Austin "spoke to Lehavi" and a bailiff kicked him out of the building, prosecutors said.
When Lehavi got a new job at a Newport Beach company, Austin found her and called her office. She pretended to be a Chicago lawyer named Robert Brown who wanted to meet her.
On April 4, 2017, Austin traveled to Orange County, rented a car, and tried to contact Lehavi again.
At one point during his calls, the defendant's name appeared in the Caller ID function in Lehavi's office, even though Austin called himself Robert Brown again.
A receptionist alerted Lehavi, who was so scared that she asked staff to take her to her car, according to prosecutors.
Austin was spotted in the parking lot by the victim's employee, causing him to yell at Austin, prosecutors said.
That resulted in Austin, who had a gun in his medical scrub, running to his rental car, jumping in and shifting into reverse, forcing Lehavi's staff to jump out of the way – leading to the attack with a deadly weapon on charges, prosecutors said .
Police later arrested Austin at his New Mexico home.