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Woman sentenced for first-degree murder

Friday, May 23 — After almost 3-1/2 years, some resolution has come in the murder case of an off-duty Susanville police officer.

On Friday, May 23, Joanna Lynne McElrath, 39, was sentenced to 25-years-to-life in state prison for the premeditated and deliberate first-degree murder of her husband, Robert McElrath. She will also pay restitution including $8,912.89 to the victim’s family.

Visiting Judge John T. Ball also granted McElrath the 1,233 days she has spent in custody since her January 2011 arrest.

Robert McElrath’s family and friends filled one side of the courtroom, while members of Joanna McElrath’s family sat on the other.

Those in attendance heard emotional victims’ impact statements from Robert McElrath’s mother, step-mother and sister who shared how his death has affected them and what he meant to their family and community.

Robert McElrath was described as someone who was loyal, had integrity and loved his family and provided for them.

His sister requested the defendant receive life without the possibility of parole.

Samantha McElrath, Joanna McElrath's daughter who Robert McElrath had adopted, and Tish Beckett, the defendant’s mother also spoke.

Samantha McElrath said her mother should not receive the three years credit as part of her sentence.

Joanna McElrath pleaded guilty on Feb. 28 to premeditated and deliberate first-degree murder. She also waived her right to appeal and gave the judge sole discretion to determine if she would receive custody for time already served.

Court proceedings for Robin Glen James, another defendant in the case, continue to move forward and a court hearing has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday, July 11.

See the Tuesday, June 3 edition of the Lassen County Times for the rest of the story.


0 #13 Patty Purdy 2014-06-02 10:55
Erica ... Of course no one is more responsible than the two involved. With that being said, to speak out in such nasty terms and with such vile thoughts is something you all should be ashamed of. Who thinks like that anyway? What kind of person can say such things? Are you REALLY any better than those involved? Do you think the kids don't see and hear this stuff? There should NOT be 'sides' to causalities within a community. Yet all I see this town do is take sides. The courtrooms certainly showed the citizens of Susanville true colors by the way they ostracized my family. We all wanted Joanna to pay consequences for her actions, and were prepared for her to get worse. That was the DA's choice. That being said, time will hopefully heal everyone. . BTW ... this IS MY FAMILY and I proudly stand behind them against those with hatred and shit in their hearts. I'm so terribly disappointed at the community of Susanville. What once was good ... never will be again.
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-4 #12 Erica 2014-05-28 11:51
Patty people have a right to comment. It wasn't only the families that were affected by this heinous crime this psycho committed. Rob was loved by everyone who knew him. Many have known him a significant portion of their lives. So yes we can express our anger, sadness and disbelief. Pretty sure you have your own family trash to worry about.
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-3 #11 Janis P. 2014-05-27 13:14
I just pray that both families can now heal. I am sad to hear that some people in Susanville have treated the Becket family badly. Please remember that we bring up our children, teach them right from wrong and at some point they make the decision which path to go down. The sins of the child are not the sins of the parents.
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0 #10 David Parks 2014-05-27 07:53
My whole point is, that it's all about me all of the time. We should have a legal system like there existed in the Middle Ages!! :roll:
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-4 #9 David Parks 2014-05-27 06:24
Roberts family only got to be heard and the Judge didn't grant their wishes. Joanna made out like a fat rat. (1) She cheated on her husband and also murders him and gets 25 years (2) She gets time served , So in due respect, She gets over 3 years knocked off (3) She only has to pay $8,912.89... The sad truth behind this whole outcome ! Those children of Roberts. They got cheated badly.......
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-6 #8 frank 2014-05-25 08:58
WOW! how will she pay the 8k back while in jail? inmates have it better than the elderly, they get t v 3 meals a day,free health care, dental , and what if they have to have surgery its free as well! :o
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-2 #7 Erica 2014-05-24 12:30
Shame people blame the whole family for one psycho's actions. I've known her for a significant portion of my life. There always seemed to be something mentally off with her. Her lack of personal responsibility in anything in her life should have been a red flag but everyone who knew her never imagined she would do such a horrific act. I do hope she suffers in prison. I hope she learns what it's like to pay for your actions. And I hope her children, her family and Rob's family can find a peaceful way forward. nothing will bring him back. But there are little kids that need their grandparents on a united front to get through the rest of their lives. I hope she gets everything she deserves in prison. It's not about judging her either. She killed a man in uniform in cold blood. no forgiveness for that.
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+13 #6 Tish Beckett 2014-05-24 12:10
YES, my husband and I did atttend all of the hearings! We did so in support of Robert, who we loved like a son. AND to hear the TRUTH, not in support of our daughter, Joanna. We knew that it was the only way that we would ever know thee truth. We knew that Joanna would never tell us the truth, she seems to think that nothing is ever her fault. Maybe in the next 25 plus years, she will be able to except responsibility for her actions.....but I sincerely doubt it !
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-14 #5 admode 2014-05-24 10:52
Patty, do you get nose bleeds being so far up on your high horse?
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-21 #4 Patty Purdy 2014-05-24 09:59
After years of hearing and seeing first hand the cruelty that the citizens of Susanville have displayed for the families involved in this tragedy, I feel relieved that I no longer reside here. The venomous and hateful postings and feelings are things for the senders to repent to God. The tragedy was just that ... a tragedy. No one has the right to cast such vile comments onto others. My personal prayer is that both families can heal and come to terms with going on with life. The MOST IMPORTANT PART IS FOR PEACE TO COME TO THE CHILDREN!! God will punish the greedy ones (the ones that kept all the money raised for ALL the children); the ones that have no civil tongue in their heads, the ones that seem to get a sense of self gratification seeing the hurt and pain continue, the ones that can make such nasty comments and threats out to the innocents; May God get the final word in and place his finger on the hearts of the nasty and evil ones left behind ... to find forgiveness. Shame on you
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