Four family members of Christine Jarrett, in addition to a retired Howard County Police Department detective and a Claire Drive neighbor, shared Thursday in court about the Elkridge woman's relationship with her husband, a union the couple’s son Bobby said was “pretty tumultuous."
Bobby Jarrett, now 32, was 10 years old when his mother went missing.
In April, Howard County police mixed with concrete under a shed behind Elkridge home she and her husband used to share.
Her husband, Robert Jarrett, was subsequently more than 21 years after he reported his wife, Christine, missing.
"They would fight and argue...maybe once a month," said Bobby Jarrett. When asked whether he saw his father hit his mother, Bobby Jarrett responded: "Not that I can be 100 percent sure of." He said that he did witness "verbal arguing, pushing and my mother being on the floor."
The goal of Thursday's testimony was for Associate Judge Richard Bernhardt to determine whether the information from witnesses could be considered evidence in the first-degree murder trial, scheduled to begin on Oct. 1.
“Theirs is a circumstantial case,” said Bernhardt, meaning that there is not direct evidence linking Robert Jarrett to the crime. The outside testimony could bolster the state's case, which is why its attorneys introduced the witnesses.
After hearing from the six individuals, Bernhardt said: “I’m not sure exactly what the state wants to get into evidence.”
Closing arguments may have revealed the intent, said Bernhardt, but he adjourned the session before the attorneys could deliver closing statements.
Instead, the judge requested a memorandum from the state’s attorney’s office detailing exceptions to the “hearsay rule” in addition to statements detailing support for testimony from a deceased witness (Christine Jarrett).
Det. Steven Greisz, a Howard County police officer for 25 years and the detective assigned to the missing person case of Christine Jarrett in January 1991, recalled at the hearing some of the particulars from his interviews with Bobby Jarrett and his father, Robert Jarrett, at that time.
Greisz traveled from his home in North Port, FL, for Thursday's proceedings.
"There were a number of family problems," said Greisz. He mentioned a Christmas card from Robert Jarrett's parents the family received a few weeks before Christine's disappearance that was addressed to the couple's two sons and their father, with no mention of their mother.
"There was talk of separation," added Greisz. "There had been separation previously from April to August 1990. [Robert Jarrett] stayed in a motor coach parked in front of his parents' home."
Marcia Neidhardt Smallwood, who has lived across the street from the Jarrett residence on Claire Drive for nearly 28 years, testified Thursday that "I only saw it one time," referencing evidence of violence in the home.
“We helped each other through thick and thin,” said Smallwood, describing her friendship with Christine Jarrett. “We saw each other every day."
Smallwood said that Christine Jarrett was normally “vibrant, funny, real tell-it-like-it-is, full of life.”
One day when she was across the street, Smallwood said she watched as Christine Jarrett “pulled in front-ways instead of backing in” to her driveway with her vehicle. Smallwood came over to the Jarrett property to see what was the matter and said she noticed right away from Christine Jarrett's body language that something was wrong. She was “very still and serious” and had “red and bits of blue” around her eye, said Smallwood.
Christine Jarrett told her neighbor that she had just gone to , a physician in Elkridge, because "she was worried there were bones broken or damage," said Smallwood. "She said she and Bob were at the kitchen table and he had her on the kitchen floor choking her."
Smallwood said that Christine Jarrett reported giving the physician a different story, regarding getting involved in another couple's altercation at a picnic.
The state's attorney's office asked to introduce into evidence the medical record of Christine Jarrett from Dr. Kim's office between 1986 and 1990.
According to the sixth amendment, in all criminal prosecutions, the accused "shall be confronted with the witnesses against him," posing complications because of what defense attorney George Psoras termed "hearsay on top of hearsay" in the testimony provided at the Howard County Circuit Court during Thursday's proceedings.
The motions hearing will resume Aug. 24.