Woman who discovered nude photos of herself on stepfather's computer convicted of murdering him
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Featured Image Credit: CBS 8
A woman has been found guilty of murdering her stepfather after she found nude photos of herself on his computer.
Jade Janks from Solana Beach, San Diego, had been on trial since 7 December over the death of Thomas Merriman, whose body was found under a pile of trash in her driveway in January 2021.
On Wednesday, 21 December, the jury reached a verdict – the 39-year-old was convicted of first degree murder.
Footage shared by CBS 8 shows the moment Janks turns to her defence attorney in shock after the guilty verdict was read out.
The interior design business owner faces 25 years to life in prison when she is sentenced, with a hearing set for April 3, 2023.
Janks had pleaded not guilty to the charges, with her defence team arguing that her 64-year-old stepfather had died as a result of ill health and substance abuse.
Toxicologist Raymond Gary stated at a preliminary hearing that Merriman was found to have high levels of Ambien in his system.
But prosecutors argued Janks had fed Merriman the sleeping pills before strangling and suffocating him on New Year's Eve 2020 after finding the nude photos on his computer.
Deputy District Attorney Jorge Del Portillo told the court: "This was no accident. This was murder by design."
Last Friday, December 16, Janks opened up about the moment she found the images of herself on her stepdad's computer.
She said she made the shocking discovery while cleaning his home as he was in hospital at the time.
"When I went to clean in his office area, I'm wiping things down, I bumped the mouse, and it shook the screen awake," Janks told the jury.
"There's a picture of female breasts on the screen. I have a beauty mark on my chest, those are my breasts."
She went on to claim there were more than 100 photos of her on the device, with all of them being divided into folders based on different body parts.
The 39-year-old also alleged some of the images were of her when she was just 16 years old, having been taken from private folders on her laptop which she never knew he had access to.
"It was the most violating, awful, gut-wrenching feeling ever. I felt sick, I felt I couldn't even touch my own skin," she said.
"I don’t know if there's words, not even in a movie have I seen something so sick."
Arguably the most damning evidence against Janks during the trial was a series of texts shared by Del Portillo, which showed an exchange between her and a friend.
One of the messages, sent at 11:30am on the day she picked Merriman up from the healthcare facility, reads: "I just dosed the hell out of him. Stopping for whiskey then at Dixieland to stall. LMK."
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677