After years of court proceedings, mental competency evaluations and several delays, a trial date was set for the Arbuckle man accused of killing two women in 2018. 

Martin Christian Ehrke, now 53, is scheduled to appear in a Colusa courtroom Aug. 16-19 and Aug. 23-25 to stand trial for the first-degree double homicide charges he faces from a January 2018 incident when two women were found dead on the property Ehrke resided at with his mother. 

Court proceedings had been stalled for sometime, but resumed in November 2022 when a preliminary hearing took place to determine if there was sufficient evidence to move forward with the case. After Colusa County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson ruled that there was enough evidence to move forward, Ehrke pleaded not guilty on Dec. 5, 2022, to the two first-degree murder charges with the special allegation of committing multiple murders. He had originally pleaded not guilty to these charges in February 2018, but proceedings were stalled while Ehrke’s mental competence was being evaluated. 

Ehrke was arrested Jan. 25, 2018, after the body of Kimberly Lynn Taylor, 39, was discovered in a large chest freezer in a shop located near the home on the Ehkre property. Shortly after, authorities also found the body of Jessica Lynn Mazak, 25, submerged in a pond on the property. 

Autopsies ordered by the Colusa County Coroner’s Office determined that the cause of death for both women was blunt force trauma. 

Local authorities confirmed that Ehrke was picked up for questioning in Colusa on the day of his arrest. Ehrke went with the officers voluntarily and allegedly confessed to hitting Mazak in the head with a rock and killing her before doing the same to Taylor as she slept, but in September, Thompson ruled that only a portion of these statements could be admissible at trial after Ehrke’s public defender Brandon Williams argued that he had not been property informed of his Miranda rights. 

During the preliminary hearing that took place in November 2022, however, several Colusa County law enforcement officials who investigated the incident testified that Ehrke had admitted to the murders on the day of his arrest. According to testimony, Ehrke confessed that he was in a fit of rage and angry at the women because he believed they had stolen credit cards, personal papers and lighting equipment used for growing marijuana from him. 

He also confessed to hiding the bodies of the women after the murders, according to testimony during the preliminary hearing. 

Ehrke has been incarcerated since his January 2018 arrest, but spent some of this time in a state mental hospital. He was released from the state hospital in March 2022 after being found fit to stand trial and aid in his defense.

Recommended for you