After nearly three years spent in the Colusa County Jail awaiting trial, accused killer Martin Ehrke, 50, of Arbuckle, may soon have to make a decision: enter a plea to killing two women by reason of insanity, plead not guilty and take his chances with a jury, or admit guilt in exchange for the dismissal of the special circumstance charges that could have sent him to death row – had California Gov. Gavin Newsom not called for a moratorium on the penalty in 2019.
Ehrke is accused of murdering two Colusa women at his family’s almond farm, in Arbuckle, on Jan. 24, 2018. The body of Kimberly Lynn Taylor, 39, was found in a chest freezer on the property and the body of Jessica Lynn Mazak, 25, was found submerged in a pond. Their bodies were discovered after Ehrke’s roommate returned home to find blood inside the home where the two women were staying and last seen alive.
The Colusa County Coroner’s Office determined that both women died of blunt force trauma to the head. Ehrke, who was not home when the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office was summoned to the farm, was arrested the following day in Colusa.
He has remained in custody at the Colusa County Jail since his arrest 33 months ago and has undergone a number of psychiatric evaluations in an effort by his attorney, John K. Hinely, to build a possible defense.
Colusa County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson has scheduled a review of Erhke’s medical condition for Dec. 2. If he is found mentally competent to stand trial, Ehrke, who has attended all court proceeding since his arrangement in 2018, could, on Dec. 16, accept the District Attorney’s offer to dismiss the two special circumstance charges in exchange for a guilty plea on two counts of first degree murder.