Jayden Glomb loved to dance and run races for a school club, and she was excited for an upcoming sleepover with her best friend.
There was nothing to indicate the 13-year-old girl was sad, let alone suicidal, in the weeks leading up to her death in May 2017.
But making the Vail teen seem despondent was one tactic her stepfather, Joshua Lelevier, explored using in the weeks before he allegedly strangled her, Deputy Pima County Attorney Ashley C. Enderle told jurors Wednesday as Lelevier’s trial on murder charges began.
Detectives were able to retrieve images and videos previously deleted from Lelevier’s computer, prosecutors said, as well as a suicide note from her computer they say was fake and deleted hours after Jayden is believed to have been killed.
“This seemed to be a normal, blended family,” Enderle said. “What nobody knew is that the defendant had an obsession with Jayden.”
During her brief opening statement, defense attorney A. Kate Bouchee Verenna urged jurors to pay attention to what they do not hear from prosecutors, such as details about where the victim died, where blood was found in the house or where a rope or cord was recovered.
“You’re not going to hear Josh Lelevier confess to any of these crimes,” she said. “He spoke to police several times and he never admitted to any of these crimes.”
Lelevier was the one who noticed Jayden was missing from her bedroom and went out to find her, the defense attorney said.
“This is not the picture of a man who killed his stepdaughter and at the close of evidence you will have no option but to find that Joshua Lelevier is not guilty of all the charges,” she said.
Jayden’s mother, Jessica Oliver, was six months pregnant and sick the night her daughter disappeared.
She testified Wednesday that she was asleep when Lelevier, her husband of more than four years, allegedly killed her daughter.
Oliver told jurors her daughter never said she was afraid of Lelevier, and that she had never suspected anything was amiss.
What she didn’t know is that a few weeks earlier, Jayden had sent a message to a friend saying she was “terrified” because her stepfather had slipped his phone under her bathroom door and tried to photograph her while she was partially dressed and drying her hair.
Her friend urged her to tell her mom, and Jayden said she would, but she never did.
Enderle told the panel of eight men and six women that prosecutors do not need to prove a motive in the killing, but that it might have been because the teen discovered her stepfather was secretly recording her or had made videos of her.
“We may never know what happened in the final moments that caused Josh Lelevier to murder Jayden Glomb, but at the end of the trial we will be able to tell you why the evidence proves he did it,” she said.
Investigators found what appeared to be a peephole from the den into the bathroom at the family’s home. Detectives also seized an endoscopic camera, a spy camera and a thumb drive from the home.
Jayden went missing from her home the night of May 10 and was reported missing to police the next morning. Her body was discovered around 10 a.m. that day, in a desert area less than 2 miles from her home.
Lelevier, 39, was arrested in connection with her death roughly two weeks after she died, following the discovery of surveillance video showing his truck in the area where Jayden’s body was found.
Lelevier previously told detectives that he’d gone out to look for Jayden when he discovered her missing shortly after 1:30 a.m., but hadn’t driven near where her body was found.
Tire tracks and shoe prints collected from where the body was found matched items belonging to Lelevier, and forensic examination of the vehicle found traces of Jayden’s blood on the tailgate.
In addition to the murder charge, Lelevier was indicted on two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, two counts of voyeurism and two counts of domestic violence for surreptitiously photographing, videotaping, filming or digitally recording her.
When investigators examined Jayden’s computer, they found online searches for suicide, blood loss and drug overdoses. The searches were performed while Jayden was at school and Lelevier was home alone, prosecutors said.
It’s unclear if Lelevier will testify, as the defense has not provided a witness list yet.
Lelevier has been held in the Pima County jail on a $1 million bond since his May 31, 2017, arrest.
The trial is being held in the courtroom of Pima County Superior Court Judge Michael Butler and is scheduled to last through the end of the month.