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Elkridge murder trial postponed

Abusive Behavior

The trial of the former Elkridge man accused earlier this year of murdering his wife more than 20 years after she was reported missing has been postponed, according to state's attorney spokesman Wayne Kirwan.

The trial was scheduled to begin with jury selection on Thursday, Dec. 6, but was postponed because of a medical issue with one of the accused killer's attorneys. New trial dates will be scheduled at a hearing in open court on Wednesday, Kirwan said.

Robert Jarrett Jr., 58, faces first- and second-degree murder charges after detectives found the remains of his wife, Christine Jarrett, buried under concrete in a backyard shed of the house the couple once shared in the 6000 block of Claire Drive, in Elkridge.

Christine Jarrett was reported missing on Jan. 5, 1991.

At a motions hearing on Monday, Judge Richard Bernhardt ruled against the defense attorney's request that the prosecution suppressed evidence after the remains found under the shed were cremated, Kirwan said.

Bernhardt ruled that by consenting with his two sons on the return of the remains from the medical examiner's office and by offering to pay for the cremation, Jarrett was not blocked from access to the evidence, according to Kirwan.

In earlier hearings, Bernhardt ruled that portions of previous testimony alleging spousal abuse of Jarrett against his wife will be admissible in the trial.

Some of the testimony deemed admissible were accounts from Christine Jarrett's sister, nephew and niece that Jarrett beat her the summer before she disappeared.

Bernhardt also admitted testimony from the couple's son, Robert Jarrett III, who said he vaguely remembers seeing his father abuse his mother on two separate occasions.

Prosecutors stated at the September motions hearing that the evidence admitted will be used during the trial to establish motive.

When Christine Jarrett was reported missing, Jarrett told police that she had walked away from their house after an argument. She was 34 years old at the time.

On Jan 28, 1998, the Howard County Circuit Court declared Christine Jarrett dead and declared the date of her death to be June 10, 1993.

According to police, Jarrett had never allowed them to search his home or property. The police could never obtain a search warrant and the case went cold.

After an anonymous tip relating to the case, police learned that Jarrett was no longer living at the house in Elkridge.

Police had never spoken to Jarrett's new wife about Christine Jarrett's disappearance, and on April 17 they contacted her. The wife, who reportedly is separated from Jarrett, gave police permission to search the property and they returned the next day.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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