Retired barber gets life in prison for murder of Newport Beach urologist


A 79-year-old retired barber was sentenced Friday to life in prison plus 10 years, without the possibility of parole, for fatally shooting a urologist inside the doctor’s Newport Beach office in 2013.

An Orange County Superior Court jury on Aug. 21 found Stanwood Elkus guilty of first-degree murder for using a fake name to make an appointment with Ronald Gilbert and then shooting the physician 10 times when he walked into the exam room.

Elkus had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but jurors determined he was sane at the time of the killing.


Gilbert’s family and friends shared memories of him Friday and took aim at Elkus, calling him “evil” and a “foolish coward” before Judge Patrick Donahue handed down the maximum sentence.

“There could be no punishment as great as the hate he has in his heart,” Gilbert’s childhood friend, Julie Harold Carter, said. “He’ll go to his grave knowing that he is reviled.”

Elizabeth Gilbert spoke quietly about how the laughter in her home was silenced when her husband was killed days before his 53rd birthday.

“The world was robbed of a model citizen … our children were robbed of an amazing father,” she said.

Halfway through family members’ statements, Elkus, who has hearing loss, removed the headphones that helped him hear the proceedings. He stared ahead, only occasionally glancing back to the podium where Gilbert’s family and friends stood to address the court. He placed the headphones over his ears again when it was time to hear his sentence.

Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Matt Murphy had told jurors at the outset of the roughly three-week trial that Elkus was seething over a 1992 surgery when he drove to Gilbert’s office and shot him on Jan. 28, 2013.

Elkus blamed what he called a botched surgery for his incontinence, erectile dysfunction, diminished sex drive and ultimately the loss of his longtime girlfriend, whom he wanted to marry.

In 1992, Gilbert, then a young medical resident, worked with a team of doctors to diagnose Elkus with a urethral stricture — a narrowing of the urethra — at the veterans hospital in Long Beach after he complained of frequent urination, Murphy said.

Two other VA doctors performed the surgery — without Gilbert — to widen Elkus’ urethra, but Elkus held a grudge against Gilbert, Murphy said.

Fry writes for Times Community News