Jade Janks sentenced to 25 to life, but maintains innocence

A California woman was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years over the December 2020 strangulation murder of her former stepfather, a judge in San Diego ruled Monday. During her sentencing hearing, she apologized only partially – but insisted the state and the victims’ loved one have it all wrong.

Jade Janks, 39, a onetime in-demand interior designer, says she panicked when she left Thomas Merriman, 64, a butterfly sanctuary nonprofit co-founder, under a pile of trash in their shared driveway.

During her sentencing, the defense was variously contrite and defiant; agreeable and accusatory – insisting that Janks was innocent of murder and determined to appeal the sentence while admitting fault for the way she handled the man’s death. At the same time, each of the three people speaking for the defense referenced allegations that Merriman himself was guilty of an altogether different crime.

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