Crime - Sacto 911

Trial delayed for woman accused of killing her officer husband

Joanna Lynne McElrath’s jury trial for the murder of her police officer husband, scheduled to begin Monday in Marysville, has been delayed to allow attorneys to continue pre-trial proceedings.

McElrath, 37, and Robin Glen James, 48, her co-defendant, are scheduled to appear in Lassen County Superior Court Jan. 31 for a conference to set a new trial date, said Lassen County District Attorney Robert M. Burns.

The couple were romantic partners in January 2011, when they are accused of conspiring to murder Susanville Police Officer Robert McElrath, 37.

They allegedly drugged Robert McElrath with a prescription narcotic before using his own car to drive him to a railroad trestle over the Susan River seven miles west of Susanville, where they shot him with his service weapon and returned later to dump his body off the bridge.

In March, Judge John T. Ball ruled that the publicity surrounding the case was so extensive that neither defendant would receive a fair trial in Lassen County.

The jury trial in Yuba County’s Marysville courthouse is expected to take four or five weeks, said Burns.

He has charged them with premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit murder and special allegations that the murder involved lying in wait and the use of a firearm. McElrath is also accused of committing murder for financial gain.

Both defendants have been in custody without bail since their arrests Jan. 6, 2011.