Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014 • James pleads guilty to premeditated murder

A co-defendant has pleaded guilty to the murder of an off-duty police officer, and the almost four-year-old case will be coming to a conclusion.

Robin Glen James.

Robin Glen James appeared in Lassen Superior Court Thursday, Dec. 11 where he pleaded guilty to the felony charge and a special allegation the crime was premeditated.

A second count of conspiracy was dismissed as well as special allegations the crime was perpetrated while lying in wait and James personally used the handgun resulting in the death of Robert McElrath.

James waived his right to appeal and now faces a 25-to-year-life sentence in state prison, but he may be entitled to a certain amount of credit for time served.

He may also be subject to a minimum $330 restitution fine and restitution paid to the victim’s family, an amount yet to be determined

According to Lassen County District Attorney Stacey Montgomery, if James is ever released he will be on probation for life.

In a separate case of domestic violence, he admitted to a violation of probation and visiting judge John T. Ball terminated probation as unsuccessful.

Sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. March 6.

James and Joanna McElrath, the other defendant in the case, were arrested Jan. 6, 2011 after law enforcement agencies conducted an investigation into the death of Robert McElrath, Joanna McElrath’s estranged husband.

According to the investigation, Joanna McElrath allegedly drugged Robert McElrath by serving him alcoholic beverages laced with Zanax and Ativan the evening of Jan. 1, 2010 — apparently in an attempt to make it appear he took his own life. While he was incoherent, she drove him to the old railroad trestle above Devil’s Corral where she met James, her then boyfriend.

James and Robert McElrath struggled, and James shot the off-duty officer.

The defendants left the scene and later returned to throw the body over the railing where a passerby found it the next morning.

In a press release Montgomery wrote, “I am content with the outcome of the case, and with the work or lead prosecutor Dan Howe. James will be a very old man when and if he is ever released from prison.”

Montgomery said James will never be free from his actions and the pain it has caused the community.

“The loss this community has suffered will forever leave a scar on our hearts … but I hope that with the admitted guilty plea from James, real healing can now begin for family, friends, the community and Rob’s brothers, sisters (and) law enforcement,” she said.

Joanna McElrath pleaded guilty Feb. 28 and was sentenced to a 25-year-to-life sentence in May.

Ball did grant her credit for time served for the approximate three years she had spent in jail, despite requests from the victim’s family that she not receive that time.