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Judge Rules 'Ill Treatment' Existed in Jarrett Marriage

Robert Jarrett is accused of killing his wife, Christine, in 1991 and burying her under a shed in Elkridge.

There was enough testimony to show a pattern of spousal abuse in the relationship between Christine and Robert Jarrett, a judge ruled in Howard County Circuit Court Thursday.

Judge Richard Bernhardt said Thursday the evidence of "domestic discord," which Jarrett's defense attorneys didn't want as part of trial because of alleged inconsistencies and bias, would be permitted to be used in efforts to prove a motive.

Police said they found behind Robert Jarrett’s Elkridge home on Claire Drive in April, mixed with concrete.

Robert  in 1991, according to police.

Christine Jarrett had not filed any domestic abuse charges against her husband prior to her disappearance.

With 21 years between and , and lacking evidence linking Robert Jarrett to the crime, the state of Maryland brought in six  in a motions hearing about the relationship between the husband and wife to provide a motive for murder in the first degree.

“Domestic violence has special relevance in murder cases,” said Kim Oldham, representing the State’s Attorney for Howard County.

Christine’s sister, niece and nephew about an incident from 1990 in which Christine Jarrett reportedly called her sister and asked to be picked up at the old Elkridge pharmacy on Main Street. Her sister and nephew said during the July 5 hearing in Circuit Court that they saw a cut on her nose and Christine was visibly upset after they arrived. 

Christine and Robert Jarrett’s son, that he saw his father push his mother on two occasions in their home, approximately two years before her disappearance.

“Taken together,” Bernhardt said of the witness testimony, “there exists a course of ill treatment.”

The defense attorney objected, citing the law's stipulation that evidence must be "clear and convincing" and also not create undue prejudice against Jarrett.

"Clearly, what the state is trying to do...is point to Mr. Jarrett and say, 'He's a bad guy,'" said Jarrett's attorney George Psoras.

Parts of the testimony from the four relatives will be entered into evidence for the trial, which was postponed until 2013 so that defense attorneys could hash out two other issues. 

Hearings on the legality of the search of the shed behind the Jarrett residence and about the remains that were found will resume next month.

The defense attorneys have not filed motions yet about what they intend to litigate with regards to the shed, but indicated it may have to do with a warrantless search.

With respect to the body, the defense attorneys requested it be removed from evidence in the trial, since Jarrett's attorneys did not have access to the remains before cremation, violating their client's right to due process.

Officials from the Howard County State's Attorney's office responded that Jarrett was informed of the cremation and helped pay for it.

The hearings were delayed from September to October so defense attorneys could bring in expert witnesses on forensic medical examination and put their request about the shed in writing.

Of Thursday's ruling about spousal abuse, Psoras said: "I disagree with the ruling, but I respect the ruling."

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