Woman Denies Murdering Stepfather Days After Allegedly Finding Over 100 Nude Photos of Herself on His Computer

Prosecutors believe that Jade Janks drugged and then strangled Robert Merriman, 64, before dumping his body near his home and covering the corpse with trash and boxes.

A California woman accused of murdering her stepfather testified in her own defense ahead of closing arguments.

Jade Janks, 38, is facing a sentence of life in prison should a jury find her guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Robert Merriman.

Prosecutors believe that Janks drugged and then strangled Merriman, 64, before dumping his body near his home and covering the corpse with trash and boxes.

Janks' defense attorney Marc Carlos argued that Merriman was an alcoholic, had substance-use issues, suffered from chronic pain, was in failing health, and caused his own overdose. 

On the stand last week, Janks testified that Merriman appeared to be intoxicated when she picked him up from a rehab facility on the day of his death. He also had a large bag of prescription sleeping pills, said Janks.

She said that she then left him in a car overnight because she could not physically get him into the house, and then returned the next morning to find him deceased in the vehicle.

Raymond Gary, a toxicologist for San Diego County Crime Lab, stated at a preliminary hearing back in March that he found very high levels of the sleeping drug zolpidem in Merriman’s system. Zolpidem is better know to many as Ambien.

Dr. Pizarro, the deputy medical examiner for San Diego County, testified at that same hearing that the cause of death in the case was acute zolpidem intoxication.

Prosecutors tell a much different story, and claim that they were tipped off about the alleged homicide after Janks allegedly confessed to a close friend.

"I suffocated him with a bag and I choked him," Janks allegedly told her good friend Adam Siplyak on the day she brought Merriman home from the rehab facility.

Siplyac declined to assist Janks at that point, 

Prosecutors also shared some of the texts that Janks sent that day.

“I just dosed the hell out of him.”
“He’s waking up. I really don’t want to be the one to do this.”
“I can’t carry him alone and I can’t keep a kicking body in my trunk.”
“I am about to club him on the head as he is waking up.”
“I’m not strong enough. He is very aware now and I am on my own.”

Janks testified under oath that she had sent these texts, but claimed they were being taken out of context.

welfare check was conducted by officers after Siplyak called police to alert them to his conversation with Janks, according to officer testimony from the preliminary hearing.  Merriman's body was discovered hidden under trash and boxes on his property.

In her testimony, Janks said she had been trying to get an already-deceased Merriman into the house when he fell out of the wheelchair. She hid the body out of fear she might be accused of killing her stepfather.

Janks also spoke about allegedly discovering her nude photos on Merriman's computer during her testimony on Friday. She said that while he was recovering from a recent fall at the aforementioned rehab facility, she decided to go about cleaning his apartment before he returned home.

Janks said that some photos were from her teenage years, and suggested that Merriman stole the images from her computer and the memory cards to her cameras. The photos were allegedly separated into specific folders based on body parts, Janks testified on the stand.

No one has seen the alleged photos other than Janks because she said that she destroyed the hard drive after seeing the images.

Court records suggest that Merriman had an on-and-off relationship with his ex-wife, who is Janks' mother. The couple filed for divorce in 2002, 2006, and 2008.

Janks also has a half-brother Cash, who is the son of Merriman and her mother.

Janks is facing the possibility of life in prison, if convicted of murder. She is currently out on $1 million bond.


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