PARIS, Mo. — A man charged with two felonies in the alleged first-degree murder of a Monroe City woman is asking to move his case outside of Monroe County and the 10th Judicial Circuit Court, and to change judges.

A lawyer for Jerry Asbell, 29, is scheduled to appear before 10th Circuit Court Judge Rachel Bringer Shepherd on Thursday (Nov. 5) at 9 a.m. for a hearing in the Monroe County District Court in Paris on the motion.

Asbell was is charged in the alleged Aug. 5 first-degree murder of Amanda Johnston, 32. He was also charged with armed criminal action. Asbell could face up to life imprisonment with no parole, or the death penalty if convicted on the first-degree murder charge.

Jennifer Richardson, Asbell’s public defender, also is asking to remove a case from the 10th Circuit that was filed against him on Aug. 6 for alleged kidnapping and inflicting injury and terrorizing, assault in the second degree and armed criminal action.

Jessica Ellsworth, 37, of Monroe City, who was charged with helping Asbell dispose of Johnston’s body, has a scheduled hearing on Dec. 11 at 10 a.m. before Ralls County District Judge David Mobley, who has been assigned her case. She is charged with felony tampering with evidence in the alleged murder case.

At the time of the alleged murder of Johnston, Ellsworth was free on a $2,500 cash-only bond for burglary charges, filed on March 18, in Marion County.

Court records also show that she pleaded guilty in Marion County before Shepherd in June 2018 for possession of a controlled substance as part of a plea deal. Shepherd sentenced her to seven years in prison. She was on parole for that case.

Johnston’s body was found off a road in rural Pike County in a ravine near a rock quarry on Route B, just east of U.S. 61 in the early hours Aug. 8 after an extensive search.

Monroe City Police went to Johnston’s home, which callers said had been burglarized. Police reported they found evidence that Johnston was the victim of foul play.

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.

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