Text Messages Led to Murder

By R. Stickney
|  Monday, May 10, 2010  |  Updated 1:39 PM PDT
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Waitress Describes Last Night of Slaying Victim's Life

Nick Morris/North County Times)

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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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A San Diego County man has been convicted of murdering his girlfriend after finding flirtatious text messages on her cell phone from a stranger.

Jonathan French admitted killing 43-year-old Jennifer Stark but sought a lesser conviction of voluntary manslaughter. When jurors  returned the first-degree murder verdict Monday, French showed no emotion.

Authorities say French had spent the night kissing Stark at her Carlsbad home in July when the discovery of the messages prompted him to beat, choke and slash her neck at least 14 times. The body of the mother of two was discovered by her 15-year-old son.

French testified that he acted in the heat of passion and didn't deserve a murder conviction.

“He is a pathological liar and a pathetic man,” Stark's close friend Kate Powers said outside court Monday. “I’m hoping he never sees the outside of a cell.”

Powers and Andrea Rocca were both close friends of Stark and had children who grew up with the victim's two teenagers.

"This was the right verdict, I can’t stress it enough," Powers said. "What those jurors did. I’m so proud of them. It was so hard to listen to what we all listened to."

The 41-year-old French faces 26 years to life in prison.

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