The man accused of killing two women at his family’s farm in Arbuckle in 2018 may not have to admit guilt or face a jury anytime soon.
After multiple starts and stops in the criminal proceedings against accused double murderer Martin Christian Ehrke, Colusa County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Thompon on Monday found the 50-year-old was not mentally competent to stand trial or aid in his defense.
Ehrke is accused of killing Kimberly Lynn Taylor, 39, and Jessica Lynn Mazak, 25, whose bodies were discovered hidden on the Hillgate Road property in southwest Colusa County in 2018.
Both women were staying at the Ehrke property and were found dead on Jan. 25, 2018, not long after another roommate returned home and discovered blood inside the home and the women missing.
Colusa County Sheriff’s deputies conducted a search of the property and found Taylor’s body in a freezer and Mazak’s body submerged in a pond. Autopsies revealed both women died from blunt force trauma, according to the coroner’s office.
Ehrke, who has been incarcerated in the Colusa County Jail since his arrest on Jan. 25, 2018, has had conflicting psychiatric evaluations to determine his competency to stand trial since the question of his mental health was first raised in June of 2019.
Colusa County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson, who sealed the defendant’s medical records, said on Monday that the third evaluation by a medical professional with the most expertise in the field of psychiatry should carry the most weight.
The psychiatrist, which was consulted by the defense, found that Ehrke is incompetent to stand trial due to a neurological defect, according to previous court proceedings.
Colusa County District Attorney Matthew Beauchamp disagrees with the psychiatrist’s findings and believes Ehrke, who has attended each court hearing since his arrest, is mentally competent – based on the meaning under the law.
Ehrke is awaiting admission to a state mental hospital for treatment to see if his mental competency can be restored. The California Department of State Hospitals run several forensic psychiatric facilities that provide treatment to committed patients, where the focus of treatment is to help them regain trial competency so they may return to court. Those patients who are unable to be restored to competency within three years are returned to the court to determine future status, such as recommitment. The average stay, according to the state, is about four months.
Ehrke is scheduled to appear in court on May 24 for placement in a mental health facility