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.
Testimony began Tuesday at the trial of Jonathan French. The defendant is on trial for the murder last summer of his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Jennifer Stark, who was a popular court reporter in the Vista courthouse. The defense admits that French killed Stark but maintains that the killing wasn't pre-meditated.
On Tuesday, a waitress at the restaurant where the couple met the night of the murder testified that at one point, they became very affectionate, making the waitress uncomfortable.
"They were definitely deep in conversation," Natalia Alavarado testified. "At some points, it seemed off a little bit, but at other points they were kissing and snuggling into each other and being affectionate."
Alavarado said that by the time the couple left, things had changed.
He did get up from the table, and, he had ordered some food to go, so when we brought it to him, he said, 'We're just going to get out of here; she's wasted,' and he seemed agitated," Alvarado said. "His demeanor definitely had changed a little bit."
Stark was found stabbed to death in her home last July.
On Tuesday, the prosecution introduced what they believe is the murder weapon, a knife, found in the house, and French's nephew was questioned about the relationship between his uncle and Stark.
"I think it was pretty much off and on," Matthew Strong told the court. "I think they were trying to figure out their relationship, so, like I said, what he was telling me, I don't know what was going on as far as the details. He would tell me they weren't together, but then he told me they would talk sometimes."
Strong said he received a call from French at work the night of the murder and said it scared him.
"He was very to the point," Strong said. "He told me if anything seemed weird or anything was going on, you need to stop by the house and you need to check on things."
Because Stark worked in the county courts, a local judge is not hearing the case. Instead, a retired judge from northern California was assigned.
French faces 26 years to life in prison if convicted.