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James Watkins was ordered to stand trial at a hearing held Monday, March 29, 2021, after being charged with a 1995 murder that officials said took place along Redding’s Sacramento River Trail. (Photo: File photos)
The man accused of killing a Redding nurse and mother of four along the Sacramento River Trail in 1995 was ordered by a judge to stand trial at a preliminary hearing Monday.
In late 2020, prosecutors charged James Watkins, 43, of Texas with the murder of Christine Susan Munro. The case had been considered cold for years until an analysis found Watkins’ DNA under Munro’s fingernails, according to officials.
In November, officials announced Watkins had been extradited to Shasta County from from Texas, where he had been serving a prison sentence for robbery.
Preliminary hearings like Monday’s serve as a way for the court to screen felony cases to ensure there’s sufficient evidence to charge someone with a crime.
The judge at Monday’s hearing determined there was, in fact, sufficient evidence to charge Watkins, meaning the case will proceed and trial dates will be set, according to a news release from the Shasta County District Attorney’s office. ANDIEZ Golden Retriever Be Badass Everyday Poster
Christine Susan Munro, a 37-year-old nurse and mother of four, was killed in June of 1995 while jogging along the Sacramento River Trail, police said. (Photo: Redding Police Department)
Despite trial dates, prosecutors and the defendant can still agree to a plea deal if they wish.
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Senior deputy district attorney Kelly Kafel is prosecuting the case. Asked whether Munro was specifically targeted, Kafel said simply Munro was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
While police did not reveal a motive when announcing his arrest, Kafel alleged Watkins wanted to rob and rape Munro and tried to kidnap her to accomplish that.
Kafel said testimony from six officers — some active, some retired — was heard at the hearing. One of them was retired county Sheriff Tom Bosenko. Kafel said Bosenko was the one who found the alleged murder weapon, a knife, as part of a dive team searching the Sacramento River.