Woman accused of killing stepdad after finding her nude photos on his computer
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A woman has been accused of drugging and killing her stepdad after finding naked photos of herself on his computer.
Interior designer Jade Janks, 39, has been arrested in San Diego accused of drugging and strangling Thomas Merriman, 64, on New Year’s Eve 2020.
Prosecutors allege Janks killed Merriman after she saw he was using one of her nude photos as a screensaver on his computer. Deputy District Attorney Jorge Del Portillo said: “This was no accident. This was murder by design.”
In court, it was alleged that Janks suffocated Merriman with a plastic bag.
The prosecution alleged she called a friend to help her, but he told her he didn’t want to get involved. The following day he went to the police to tell them what happened.
The lead detective in the case, Lisa Brannan said in court: “Ms Janks told [the friend] that she killed her stepfather and she said, ‘I suffocated him with a bag and I choked him.’ She also said that she gave him a bunch of drugs.”
He was found dead under rubbish bags outside his home - police officers discovered his body after being called out to do a welfare check.
Janks denies murder and has pleaded not guilty.
The photographs were reportedly taken more than 10 years ago and were consensually taken by Janks and her boyfriend. It isn’t clear how Merriman came to get hold of them.
Prosecutors said Janks found the photos when she was cleaning her stepfather’s apartment while he was in hospital.
She is alleged to have sent a text to a man about giving pills to Merriman - it read: “I just dosed the hell out of him. Stopping for whiskey then at Dixieland to stall. LMK.”
In another message, Janks allegedly wrote: “He’s waking up. I really don’t want to be the one to do this.”
And another said: “I am about to club him on the head as he is waking up.”
Janks' attorney, Marc Carlos, says Merriman died due to his failing health and a cocktail of sleeping pills he had taken.
Carlos said: “The medical examiner will not tell you it was strangulation. The science does not support strangulation.”
The official cause of death was recorded as acute intoxication.
The attorney claimed Merriman was an alcoholic and had an addiction to sleeping pills.
He said his client ‘loved’ her late stepdad, who he called a ‘troubled individual’.
Carlos said: “Jade Janks loved her stepfather. Tom Merriman loved Jade Janks. Unfortunately, Tom Merriman was a troubled individual, and he loved her in different ways.”