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Bail set at $1 million for woman accused in Solana Beach stepfather murder

VISTA — Bail was set at $1 million today for a Solana Beach woman charged with murdering her stepfather, Butterfly Farms co-founder Thomas Merriman.

Jade Sasha Janks, 37, faces life imprisonment if convicted of killing Merriman, whose body was found inside her Nardo Avenue home on the afternoon of Jan. 1.

Sheriff’s deputies went to the home that day to check on Merriman’s welfare, and “due to the circumstances,” sheriff’s homicide investigators assumed responsibility of the investigation, sheriff’s Lt. Thomas Seiver said.

A search warrant was obtained, and detectives found Merriman’s body inside the residence, according to Seiver.

The criminal complaint alleges the killing was premeditated and took place on Dec. 31.

Janks was arrested soon after the discovery of the victim and had been held without bail prior to Wednesday’s hearing.

Though no details have been disclosed regarding a suspected motive or cause of death, Deputy District Attorney Teresa Pham argued in court that Janks represents both a flight and safety risk.

The prosecutor said Merriman had recently been released from a hospital and thus was a “vulnerable victim,” and Janks was in “a position of trust” being his stepdaughter.

Pham also said she believes Janks has financial resources and close ties to South Africa through her family, and frequently travels abroad.

“It is quite easy for her, if she was to make bail, to buy a plane ticket and just go wherever she wants to go to avoid a very serious charge that she has,” Pham argued.

Janks’ attorney, Ricky Crawford, disputed that his client represented any threat to the community. She has no prior criminal history, according to the defense attorney, who said the prosecution had not presented any facts to show Janks was a threat to anyone.

Crawford also said he submitted around 60 character reference letters to the court, which he said indicate his client is not a danger to the community or a flight risk.

While San Diego County Superior Court Judge David Berry said he believed Janks was entitled to some amount of bail, he ordered that she surrender her passport and be subject to GPS monitoring should she post the $1 million bail.

Her next court date is a March 3 readiness conference.

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