Killer, "Sociopath" and "Con Man" Sentenced

By R. Stickney
|  Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010  |  Updated 11:10 AM PDT
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Waitress Describes Last Night of Slaying Victim's Life

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French Testifies in His Own Defense

Jonathan French describes in his own words what happened when he met his girlfriend Jennifer Stark the night of her death.

Waitress Describes Last Night of Slaying Victim's Life

A clearer picture is emerging of the relationship between a medical supplies salesman and his girlfriend who was found murdered in her Carlsbad home last summer.
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The teenager who found his mother's bloody body inside their Carlsbad home a year ago used the words "monster" and "coward" to describe his mother's killer in court Monday.

Jonathan French had spent the night kissing 43-year old Jennifer Stark at her Carlsbad home July 31, 2009 when the discovery of text messages threw him into a jealous rage, prompting him to beat, choke and slash Stark's neck at least 14 times.

Stark’s teenage son, who arrived home at 11 p.m. and found his mother's body, recalled the gruesome discovery in court when he requested the maximum penalty for French Monday. 

“Did you think for a second about you would leave for me to get home to,” Stark’s son cried as he asked French.

“Have you ever thought of what I saw in that house? How that was the last time I would ever see my mom?” he said. “Pictures of that still fill my head every day and torture me.”

French, who had testified in his own defense during the trial, admitted to killing Stark but said that he had acted in the heat of passion and didn't deserve a murder conviction.

Aretta Engelhardt, Stark’s mother, scolded French, “John you sure taught her a lesson. Does that make you feel tough?"

Engelhardt had to sit down during her statement, her hands shaking as she held several papers.

“[Jennifer] was in over her head because you were so good in what you do – lie and deceive,” she told her daughter’s killer.

“What you’ve done is so senseless and heinous,” she told French. “You’ve given us a pain that will never go away.”

Judge Peter Spinetta called French “a very narcissistic, controlling, manipulative sociopath and con man” who has demonstrated that he is unable to control his rage time and time again.

For the murder, which the judge described as barbaric and cruel, he sentenced French to 26 years to life in prison.

Stark’s friend, Andrea Rocca, played a voicemail message from Stark in court that she listens to regularly as a source of comfort then addressed French directly. “You are a loser. You always were a loser,” she said. “You do deserve to be forgotten.”

Stark worked as a court reporter at the Vista courthouse and had dated French, a medical supplies salesman, on-again, off-again for three years.

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