Woman accused of killing stepfather describes finding her nude photos on his computer
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Featured Image Credit: CBS 8
WARNING: This article contains material that some might find distressing
A woman who is accused of killing her stepfather has described the moment she allegedly found her nude photos on his computer.
Jade Janks from Solana Beach, San Diego, gave the shocking testimony while taking the witness stand in the ongoing trial.
His body was discovered under a pile of trash in Janks' driveway in January 2021, with toxicologist Raymond Gary stating that he was found to have high levels of Ambien in his system.
Prosecutors have accused Janks of feeding Merriman the sleeping pills before strangling and suffocating him 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."
However, Janks maintains her innocence, with her legal team arguing that Merriman's death was caused by poor health and previous drug use.
Defence attorney Marc Carlos said during the trial: "The medical examiner will not tell you it was strangulation. The science does not support strangulation."
He later added: "Jade Janks loved her stepfather. Tom Merriman loved Jade Janks. Unfortunately, Tom Merriman was a troubled individual, and he loved her in different ways."
On Friday (16 December), the 39-year-old interior design business owner opened up about the moment she found the images of herself on her stepfather'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.
Janks also alleged some of the images were of her when she was just 16 years old, having been taken from private folders 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."
CBS 8 San Diego stated that the jury was handed a pack containing what appeared to be thumbnails of some of the photos.
Elsewhere in her testimony, Janks claimed Merriman fell unconscious after taking prescription pills with alcohol after she picked him up from a healthcare facility.
She testified she left him in the car to sleep it off, but when she went out the next morning he was unresponsive and so, in a 'panic', tried to hide the body.
"[I] didn’t really know what to do," Janks told the court, saying she had not yet confronted Merriman about the photos and had damaged his computer after finding them.
"I didn’t want to be blamed for killing him."
The prosecution told a different story, showing texts sent from the woman's phone to several friends, including one which reads: "I just dosed the hell out of him. Stopping for whiskey then at Dixieland to stall. LMK."
If Janks is found guilty of murder, she faces life in prison. The trial is ongoing.