PARIS, Mo. — A man charged with two felonies in the alleged first-degree murder of a Monroe City woman was granted his request for a new judge during a brief video hearing on Thursday morning in Monroe County.
Judge Rachael Bringer Shepherd granted a request from the court appointed attorney for Jerry Asbell, 29, Jennifer Richardson, to be assigned a different judge.
Richardson’s next step will be to request that Asbell’s trial be moved out of Monroe County and the 10th Judicial Circuit Court.
Requests for a change of venue are routinely granted defendants in felony cases across Missouri under state law.
Asbell was charged in the alleged Aug. 5 first-degree murder of Amanda Johnston, 32, by Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Talley Kendrick Smith. He also was charged with armed criminal action and three additional felonies related to an alleged kidnapping case in Monroe City that occurred on Aug. 4. He will have a new judge for that case.
Asbell could face up to life imprisonment with no parole, or the death penalty if convicted on the first-degree murder charge.
Jessica Ellsworth, 37, of Monroe City, who was charged with helping Asbell dispose of Johnston’s body, has a scheduled hearing at 10 a.m., Dec. 11, before Ralls County District Judge David Mobley, who has been assigned her case. She is charged with felony tampering with evidence in the murder case.
At the time of the alleged murder of Johnston, Ellsworth was free on a $2,500 cash-only bond for burglary charges,
Johnston’s body was found off a road in rural Pike County in a ravine near a rock quarry on Route B.
According to a probable cause statement filed with the charges, Asbell allegedly killed Johnston shortly after 3 a.m. on Aug. 5.
Police said Asbell offered money and methamphetamine in exchange for a ride in Johnston’s car. They ended up in St. Jude Cemetery in Monroe City, police said. They allege that he used a semi-automatic handgun to murder Johnston.
In the alleged kidnapping and assault case, police said they entered a house and found a woman with facial abrasions and a bleeding foot. Police said that Asbell came out of a room with arms raised over his head.
However, police allege that once he was escorted out of the home, Asbell began to fight Monroe County sheriff’s deputies. Police said that he was searched and a needle with a “clear substance” was pulled from his right front pocket, and that he had two Social Security cards and a food stamp card that did not belong to him.
Asbell is being held without bond in the Monroe County Jail. Ellsworth was returned to complete a seven-year sentence for probation violation related to her arrest in the alleged murder of Johnston.