Alleged Remains of Wife's Buried Body Approved for Trial Evidence
Jury selection should begin Wednesday in the case of an Elkridge man accused of murdering his wife, burying her under the shed.
Remains found buried in concrete underneath a shed in an Elkridge backyard can be used as evidence in the state’s trial against Robert Jarrett Jr., a judge ruled Monday.
The remains, according to the medical examiner, were those of Christine Jarrett, Robert Jarrett’s wife in January 1991 when he reported her missing.
In April 2012, Jarrett’s second wife – from whom he was separated at the time and who later filed for divorce – allowed police to search the property behind their house. It was the same home Jarrett shared with Christine when she was reported missing.
In court Monday, Jarrett’s attorney, George Psoras Jr., revived earlier claims that experts he had consulted cast doubt on the ability of the medical examiner to positively identify the remains as those of Christine Jarrett.
What if, Psoras asked, placing a hand on Jarrett’s shoulder, “Mr. Jarrett had the poor luck to buy that home with a body already buried in the backyard?” he asked Judge Richard S. Bernhardt. Or, “Let’s say [Jarrett] killed someone else," Psoras said.
“Completely different case.”
Prosecutors for the state argued that the medical examiner’s office was correct in its identification of Christine Jarrett's remains and that the defense had ample time to request access to the remains before they were cremated. “While they only had four days,” James Dietrich said, “they did have four days.”
Dietrich also contended that there were additional tissue samples – discovered earlier this month – that were available for the defense to examine, which could offer the same information as would access to the remains.
In a case with no eye witnesses and testimony of decades-old recollections, the remains represent one source of concrete evidence.
Psoras argued that not having access to the body infringed on his client’s constitutional right to cross-examine the evidence. The remains were the “linchpin” of the state’s case against his client, Psoras said.
In his ruling, Bernhardt said that not only did Jarrett not attempt to block the destruction of the remains, but he “actively facilitated” their destruction.
According to transcripts of phone conversations, Christine Jarrett's remains were handled by the two sons she had with Jarrett, and the cremation was paid for by Jarrett.
Robert Jarrett was first on the priority list to take possession of her remains after the autopsy, according to procedure. “He was willing to put out $1,300 to cremate the body,” Bernhardt said, even if, as Psoras contended, no one knew with certainty whose remains they were.
Jury selection in Jarrett’s murder trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday. Bernhardt said he expects the trial to continue through Dec. 21.