Interior designer Jade Janks was found guilty Wednesday of drugging and strangling her former stepfather to death after nude photos of her were found on his computer.
Janks, 39, was convicted of the first-degree murder of Thomas Merriman after a jury in Vista, Calif., deliberated for less than a day.
He maintained his innocence throughout the trial, insisting he did not kill Merriman, 64, on December 31, 2020, and instead claimed he died of an illness, the NY Post reports
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Janks admitted she was horrified to find more than 100 nude photos of herself on her computer. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported
“This was not an accident,” Assistant District Attorney Jorge Del Portillo told jurors in North County Superior Court. “This was murder by design.”
The photos were taken consensually by Janks with her then-boyfriend more than a decade ago, according to local reports.
It was unclear how Merriman, a local butterfly activist, gained access to the private images. One of the nude photos appeared to be her screensaver.
Prosecutors told the jury that Janks, of Solana Beach, discovered the images while cleaning Mr. Merriman’s apartment after he was hospitalized.
His mother was no longer married to him, but the two were still close.
Lawyers also presented text messages to the jury that Janks wrote saying she “dosed him up” after picking him up from the hospital.
“I’m about to hit him in the head while he wakes up,” she texted when she woke up.
She confessed to killing him to two separate people, they said.
Janks’ attorney, Marc Carlos, spoke to the media after the verdict, insisting there was “zero” evidence that he strangled her.
It was determined that the cause of death of Mr. Merriman was acutely poisoned by zolpidem, also known as the sleep aid Ambien.
He was found dead under a pile of cardboard boxes in his driveway on January 2, 2021.
During the trial, Mr. Carlos made sure to criticize Mr. Merriman’s behavior.
“Jade Janks loved her stepfather,” she said. “Tom Merriman loved Jade Janks. Unfortunately, Tom Merriman was a troubled person and he loved her in different ways.
Janks now faces life in prison for the murder.
This article originally appeared in the NY Post and is reproduced with permission
Originally published as California interior designer Jade Janks found guilty of killing her stepfather for keeping nude photos of him.