Friday, 09 December 2022

Preliminary hearing set for man accused of woman's murder

James Wade Roberts, 45, of Clearlake was arrested in connection with the homicide of Ruth Donaldson, 63, also of Clearlake.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Jon Hopkins said Roberts' preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Feb. 16 in Superior Court's Department 2 in Lakeport.

Clearlake Police reported finding Donaldson's body in her Mullen Avenue home - which she reportedly shared with Roberts - in the early morning hours of Oct. 15. Officers had been dispatched there after several 911 hangups were traced to the address.

After collecting evidence at the home, Clearlake Police reported arresting Roberts, who was at the scene.

Hopkins did not want to offer more details on Donaldson's precise cause of death until he has seen the full autopsy results. "Ordinarily, it takes a while for us to get the report."

Roberts was arraigned before Superior Court Judge Richard Martin in Lakeport on Oct. 17, where the District Attorney's Office charged him with one count of murder and five prior strikes. The prior charges, according to District Attorney's Office, included assault with a deadly weapon - a firearm - filed in Sonoma County and a 1980 robbery charge in Butte County.

Hopkins said Roberts did not enter a plea at the October arraignment. It's common practice in felony cases for no plea to be entered during a first court appearance, he said, with defendants waiting to speak with their attorneys before making pleas.

Roberts has since entered a not guilty plea, said Hopkins. Initially represented by defense attorney Doug Rhoades, Roberts' case is now being handled by attorney Steve Carter.

Roberts remains in jail on $1 million bail.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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