A Tucson man who secretly filmed his teen stepdaughter in the bathroom before killing her and dumping her pajama-clad body in the desert was sentenced Monday to life in prison without the possibility of release, plus an additional 34 years.
Joshua Lelevier, 39, was convicted by a Pima County Superior Court jury on Nov. 29 of first-degree murder, abandonment of a dead body and two counts each of sexual exploitation of a minor, domestic-violence-related surreptitious recording and voyeurism in the May 2017 slaying of 13-year-old Jayden Glomb.
He automatically faced a sentence of natural life in prison.
Jayden was reported missing from her Vail home on May 11, 2017. Her body was discovered later that day, dumped in a desert area less than two miles from her home.
The courtroom was packed full of Jayden’s family members, along with friends and co-workers of her mother, Jessica Oliver, during Monday’s sentencing, with several jurors from the case returning to hear Superior Court Judge Michael Butler hand down his sentence.
Deputy Pima County Attorney Jonathan Mosher asked Butler to impose the maximum sentence of 17 years on each sexual-exploitation count, saying Lelevier left a “trail of devastation” for Jayden’s family, friends and the community.
Mosher outlined Lelevier’s behavior in the weeks leading up to Jayden’s death, saying he demonstrated a “’very clear pattern” in his attempts to sexually exploit the teen. Jayden told a friend two months before her death that she had caught Lelevier slipping his phone under her bathroom door and trying to photograph her while she was partially dressed and drying her hair.
Lelevier went on to purchase spy cameras, installing them in Jayden’s bathroom and capturing the girl in several compromising situations before abruptly stopping the filming and removing the cameras.
Days later, Lelevier began researching causes of death and drafted a fake suicide note on Jayden’s computer.
“This is Josh Lelevier planning to kill Jayden,” Mosher said. “There is no other excuse, no other explanation and no other reasonable interpretation of this evidence.”
Mosher pointed out Lelevier’s lack of apparent emotion during his testimony and throughout the trial, and referenced his unusual behavior following Jayden’s death.
Lelevier told police he woke up at 1:30 a.m. to find Jayden missing from the house, with the sliding glass door left partially ajar and no signs of forced entry. He claimed to have driven through the surrounding neighborhoods searching for Jayden before waking her mother up to tell her the girl was gone.
In the days following the discovery of Jayden’s body, Lelevier made several calls to police, first reporting that he found a spare key to the family car hidden in the front yard of their home and then to say he’d been assaulted by an unseen assailant in the middle of the night.
During a memorial for Jayden a week after her body was found, Lelevier approached Jayden’s father, offering his condolences and shaking the grieving father’s hand, which Mosher called “bone-chilling and calculatingly cold.”
After Mosher’s statement to the court, a victim advocate with the County Attorney’s Office read the eulogy from Jayden’s funeral, in lieu of her parents making victim impact statements to the court.
“Jayden Renee was dancing to the rhythm of life since she was a toddler,” the eulogy began, going on to talk about her fearless nature and her dream of someday visiting and dancing in Spain.
Prosecutors followed up the eulogy with a slide show featuring photos and videos of Jayden, played to the song “Dancing in the Sky.” The muffled sounds of crying were notably audible as the song played in the courtroom, with several people in the gallery wiping away tears.
“Today is not the day to retry the case,” Lelevier’s defense attorney, Walter Palser, said to Butler after the video ended. “That’s an issue for appeal.”
Palser pointed out there were no aggravating factors in the case and alerted Butler to the mitigating factors that he said should be taken into consideration on the sexual-exploitation charges, including the continued support of Lelevier’s mother and father and his 18-year career in the military.
“We’ve all seen much more heinous circumstances,” Palser said, referencing Mosher’s statement about the heinous nature of Lelevier’s crimes.
Palser asked for a 10-year sentence on each of the sexual-exploitation charges and concurrent sentences for the remaining five charges.
Lelevier, who testified during trial, declined to speak on his own behalf
Butler praised the “tremendous bravery” of Oliver and Jayden’s friends who testified during trial to what he called the “nightmare” they lived through.
Butler said the jury answered the question of who killed Jayden, but the remaining question of “why” continues to torment her family and friends.
“I’m not sure if that answer would provide any comfort,” Butler said, adding that it could lead Jayden’s loved ones to wonder what they could have done differently to prevent her death.
Butler said Mosher was correct in saying only one person on the planet is responsible for killing Jayden, before he imposed the state-mandated sentence of life in prison with no chance of release, and the maximum sentence of 17 years in each of the sexual-exploitation charges, set to run consecutively.
Lelevier was also sentenced to 1.5 years in prison for each of the remaining five charges, to be served concurrently with his other sentences
Lelevier has 20 days to appeal his sentence.
“The justice system worked today as well as it absolutely can,” said Julia Palfreyman, an attorney representing Jayden’s mother. “You can’t bring Jayden back, but the family can certainly be relieved that (Lelevier will) never be out again and he’ll never be able to hurt another child again.”