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Lake Elsinore man, 79, sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing his Newport Beach doctor

September 15, 2017

SANTA ANA – A talented doctor, good friend and loving husband and father – that is how loved ones remembered Dr. Ronald Gilbert on Friday.

On Jan. 28, 2013, the successful urologist was shot 10 times at his Newport Beach medical practice by a disgruntled former patient who blamed the 52-year-old doctor for his prostate problems.

The killer, Stanwood Elkus, 79, sat in a wheelchair for the duration of his trial in Orange County Superior Court last month. But for his Friday sentencing, he walked into the courtroom without the use of his wheelchair, as many in the room gasped.

The Lake Elsinore resident sat quietly as Superior Court Judge Patrick Donahue sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility parole.

Elkus had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but the jury last month found that he was mentally sound when he plotted to kill the doctor, used a fake name to schedule a medial appointment and then gunned him down in an exam room.

“There can be no punishment as great as the hate he has in his heart,” Gilbert’s childhood friend, Julie Harold Carter, said to the judge.

Gilbert first saw Elkus in 1992 while he was working as young resident at the VA Long Beach Hospital. Elkus complained of frequent urination and was diagnosed with a narrowing of the urethra. Gilbert recommended he undergo a procedure to widen his urethra; the operation was performed by different doctors.

The operation was a simple, outpatient procedure, but Elkus argued with nurses and refused to leave the hospital until he believed he was “fully healed.” Days later he returned to the hospital and demanded that doctors remove his temporary catheter.

The prosecution said Elkus became obsessed, believing that the procedure had damaged his prostate and caused his erectile dysfunction. For decades, he seethed over his medical issues and would talk about his prostate to anyone who would listen, attorneys said.

Elkus’ defense attorney had said that he suffered from dementia and psychotic depression that was exacerbated by his health issues.

In late 2012, Elkus bought a .45-caliber handgun and mapped out directions to the Hoag Health Center in Newport Beach, where Gilbert worked.

At the sentencing, several close friends and family members described in court how they have been affected by the devastating loss. Elkus stared straight ahead and removed his hearing-aid headphones as some loved ones read statements.

Glenn Gilbert said his brother was a “brilliant” and “selfless” man who “brought joy into the world and enriched countless people’s lives. … His absence has been painful and profound.”

Glenn Gilbert said Elkus caused his own problems by refusing to follow post-operative care and medical advice from the doctors who did the procedure: “If he wanted to kill the person responsible, he should have just looked in the mirror and shot himself.”

Gilbert’s wife, Elizabeth, said her husband was a wonderful father to their two sons.

“Ron welcomed everyone into our home with open arms and a huge smile,” she said. “Our life will never be the same.”

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