Special Reports

Trial date set in Robert Manwill murder case

Daniel Ehrlick enters the courtroom for a pre-trail hearing in the first-degree murder for the death of Robert Manwill over the summer. Two trial dates were set as the defense has requested separate trials for Ehrlick and Melissa Jenkins, which the judge has not ruled on yet.
Daniel Ehrlick enters the courtroom for a pre-trail hearing in the first-degree murder for the death of Robert Manwill over the summer. Two trial dates were set as the defense has requested separate trials for Ehrlick and Melissa Jenkins, which the judge has not ruled on yet. Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

Melissa Jenkins made incriminating statements against her then boyfriend, Daniel Ehrlick, during an investigation into her 8-year-old son's disappearance and murder in July, said 4th District Judge Darla Williamson in court Thursday.

Those statements to police prompted Ehrlick's attorneys to ask Williamson to give Ehrlick and Jenkins separate first-degree murder trials. Jenkins' comments were not revealed in court.

Williamson still must rule on that request and another by Ehrlick for a change of venue. The defense said a jury pool in Ada County may be too prejudiced by extensive media coverage of Robert Manwill's disappearance and death in July.

A motion filed with Williamson cites "highly inflammatory" newspaper stories and angry comments from the public on media Web sites.

The motion also references the more than 2,300 people who came out to help find the boy on just one day of the weeklong search that ended when his body was found in a local canal.

Williamson set the trial for April 12. If the cases are separated, Jenkins would go to trial in May, Williamson said.

Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower has declined to seek the death penalty against Jenkins and Ehrlick, who have both pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say Ehrlick beat Jenkins' son in a pattern of "escalating physical violence" that ended in his death on or about July 24.

Jenkins and Ehrlick also are accused of misleading Boise police for almost two weeks.

Kathleen Kreller: 377-6418

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