Pre-trial hearing for accused killer postponed

247

Martin Ehrke, the man accused of killing two women at his family’s Arbuckle farm in 2018, has been granted a three month continuance in his case to allow his attorney to discover exactly what occurred the day his client was arrested.

Colusa County Superior Court judge Jeffrey A. Thompson postponed Ehrke’s Miranda hearing to March 26, 2020, at which time Thompson could rule on whether there were any violations of Ehrke’s Miranda rights during his initial interrogation by law enforcement, and whether any of Ehrke’s statements to officers will be allowed into evidence at trial.

Ehrke, 50, is accused of killing Kimberly Lynn Taylor, 39, and Jessica Lynn Mazak, 25, at a home located on the Hillgate Road property on Jan. 24, 2018.

The Colusa County Sheriff’s Office discovered the gruesome scene the following day after a roommate called to report that he came home and found blood on the walls and that the two women, known to be staying on the property, were nowhere to be found.

Taylor’s body was located inside a chest freezer on the property. Investigators later found Mazak’s body submerged in a pond. Both women died of blunt force trauma to the head, according to the Colusa County Coroner’s Office.

Ehrke was arrested later that day in Colusa, after first checking into the hospital in Colusa for unknown reasons, authorities said.

Public Defender Robert Hinley indicated in court on Dec. 11 that, in addition to the Miranda hearing, he had planned to file a motion for a Pitchess hearing in order to access the arresting law enforcement officer’s personnel information, which typically follows an allegation that the arresting officer used excessive force or lied about the events surrounding a defendant’s arrest.

Hinley said a Pitchess motion, which could provide information on whether the officer had any prior incidents involving force, citizen’s complaints, and pertinent background information obtained prior to his employment, would not be necessary as he has been allowed access to personnel records.

Ehrke has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, in addition to a special allegation for multiple murders. Because of the special allegation, he could face the death penalty if convicted.

Without objection by the Colusa County District Attorney’s Office, the court granted a three-month continuance to allow Hinley time for additional discovery that could help Ehrke in his defense.

Ehrke, who has been in custody at the Colusa County Jail since his arrest nearly two years ago, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. ■