Elkridge 'cold case' murder trial begins Tuesday

The murder trial of the former Elkridge man implicated in the death of his wife more than 20 years after she disappeared begins this week in Howard County Circuit Court.

Jury selection in the trial of Robert Arnold Jarrett Jr., 59, of Prince Frederick, will start on Tuesday, with opening statements anticipated for Wednesday morning, according to state's attorney spokesman Wayne Kirwan,

Jarrett 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, on April 18, 2012.

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

Leading up to the trial, Judge Richard Bernhardt ruled that some testimony accusing Jarrett of spousal abuse of his wife would be admitted. According to prosecutors, the testimony will be used to establish motive.

Bernhardt also ruled against the defense's assertion that the prosecution suppressed evidence by cremating the remains of the body after the medical examiner's autopsy.

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

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