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Jury deliberates Solana Beach stepfather murder case

Jade Janks accused of murdering stepdad after finding her nude photos on his computer.

VISTA, Calif. — The fate of a Solana beach woman accused of murdering her stepfather is in the hands of a jury.

Prosecutors wrapped up rebuttal closing arguments Tuesday, alleging Jade Janks, 39, drugged and suffocated her stepdad, Tom Merriman, 64, after finding nude photos of herself on his computer.

“She dosed the hell out of him. She never called 911. She had all those incriminating text messages,” Deputy District Attorney Jorge Del Portillo told the jury of 8 women and 4 men.

The evidence against the interior designer included testimony from two witnesses: one said Janks asked him to strangle her stepfather; the other testified Janks told him she strangled her stepfather herself in the back of her SUV on New Year’s Eve 2020.

“She used the word strangle when she told Brian (Salomon) what she wanted him to do, and when she told Adam (Siplyak) what she admitted she did. We asked about strangulation because she confessed to it,” said Del Portillo.

Earlier in the trial, Janks took the witness stand in her own defense, and was asked about a series of text messages she sent to acquaintances on the day Merriman died. One of them read, “I just dosed the hell out of him.”

“When someone says ‘I dosed the hell out of him,’ you would agree with me that that means someone gave another person a whole lot of drugs, right?,” the prosecutor asked Jade during testimony Friday.

“That phrase. I guess it was poor phrasing,” Jade responded.

On Monday, defense attorney Marc Carlos said during closing arguments that Merriman was an alcoholic and a drug abuser, who overdosed himself in the back of Jank's Toyota Forerunner.

After Merriman died, Janks admitted she hid his body underneath a pile of trash and lied to police about not knowing where he was.

“Jade Janks loved her stepfather, would have never hurt him and never killed him, and she just panicked. And that's why she's here, because she panicked instead of calling 911. She panicked, but panicking is not a crime,” said Carlos.

Janks is facing 25 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. The jury also has the option of considering lesser included charges of either voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.

WATCH RELATED: Closing arguments in Solana Beach stepfather murder trial 


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