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Man Admits To Killing Nurse And Mother Of Four, Whose Death 'Devastated' A Community, In 1995

James Earl Watkins was linked to the 1995 murder of Christine Susan Munro by DNA in her fingernails.

By Gina Tron
Christine Munro and James Watkins

A man has pleaded guilty to the murder of a California nurse and mother in 1995, a case that has long been considered cold.

Christine Susan Munro, 37, was attacked while jogging near the Sacramento River in June of 1995. As both a celebrated nurse and a mother of four, "her murder devastated our community," the Redding Police Department stated earlier this year. Investigators described her murder as "brutal" during a November 2020 press conference.

On Monday, James Earl Watkins, 42, officially took responsibility for her murder, pleading guilty to first-degree murder and admitting to three special allegations for kidnapping, robbery and lying in wait. He is expected to receive three life sentences without the possibility of parole, according to the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office. He has waived all his appeal rights under the terms of the plea deal.

“Christine Munro has three surviving children,” the district attorney’s office states. “They were all consulted and are pleased with the resolution of the case.”

Watkins was linked to the unsolved murder after Redding Police investigators took another look at the case with modern technology. In January of 2020, they submitted Munro’s fingernail scrapings for DNA analysis, according to investigators. 

Those scrapings led to Watkins last year, who was serving a 14-year sentence for robbery in a Texas state prison. He was charged with the nurse's murder in October of last year and then transferred from Texas to Redding in November. 

He was 17 at the time of Munro's murder and in Redding. Investigators noted during last year's press conference that he has a lengthy criminal record which include multiple sexual assaults. 

A convicted rapist claimed that he killed Munro in 1997 but investigators determined that was a false confession.

Watkins is scheduled to be officially sentenced on Aug. 25.

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