Murder trial moved to Yuba County
Friday, July 27 — A trial for the alleged murder of an off-duty Susanville police office will more than likely be tried in Yuba County.
On Friday, July 26, visiting judge John T. Ball announced the California Administrative Office of Courts and Judicial Council reported Yuba was the only county to accept the trial for defendants Joanna Lynne McElrath and Robin Glen James. They are being charged with the January 2011 death of McElrath’s estranged husband Robert McElrath.
The defendants were present at the hearing in Lassen Superior Court with each of their attorneys Bud Landreth and Larry Barnes. The defense counsel, the court and Lassen County District Attorney Bob Burns had also recommended Sacramento, Nevada and Butte counties be considered for the change of venue.
According to Ball, under law, the parties are entitled to an objection to the assigned county and the defense counsel accepted an invitation to tour the facilities. Burns, Landreth and Barnes are scheduled to visit Marysville at 10 a.m. Aug. 21 to examine the facilities, personnel and “other ancillary matters.”
The defendants will not be present for the visit.
Ball said the trial will not be tried in early October, a possibility discussed at a June hearing. However, he said it could occur shortly after.
McElrath and James were arrested after an almost weeklong investigation into the death of Robert McElrath. His body was found near the riverbank at the old railroad trestle at Devil’s Corral on Jan. 2, 2011.
A change of venue hearing was heard in April 2013 and Ball granted the defense’s request to move the trial out of Lassen County in May.
The matter will return to Lassen Superior Court at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 6 for further motions and a trial setting conference.
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