Woman pleads not guilty to killing Solana Beach nonprofit cofounder


VISTA (CNS) – A woman who allegedly killed a man whose body was found inside her Solana Beach home on New Year’s Day pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a murder charge.

Jade Sasha Janks, 37, is accused in the death of 64-year-old Thomas Merriman, the co-founder of Butterfly Farms, an Encinitas nonprofit organization focused on the conservation and study of native butterflies.

Sheriff’s deputies sent to the defendant’s home in the 100 block of Nardo Avenue on the afternoon of Jan. 1 to check on Merriman’s welfare found his body inside the residence and took Janks into custody, San Diego County sheriff’s Lt. Thomas Seiver said.

A suspected motive for the murder was not disclosed, nor the relationship, if any, between Janks and Merriman.

The criminal complaint indicates the killing took place on Dec. 31, but does not state Merriman’s cause of death.

Janks remains in custody without bail. At her arraignment, her attorney Ricky Crawford said he believes she is entitled to a reasonable amount of bail, but reserved argument on the matter for an upcoming bail review hearing, which is scheduled for Jan. 27.

Butterfly Farms issued a statement last week regarding Merriman’s death, which read, “Our hearts remain, and will remain, broken by the loss of Tom. We will do our best to honor him by sharing beauty in his memory.”

“Honestly, we are at a loss for words still on how to move forward here,” the statement said. “We want to continue to share what’s going on at the farm in honor and remembrance of our co-founder, Tom, and all of the dedication he has poured into our farm and butterflies. Tom will forever remain in our hearts and our farm. Thank you again for your support.”

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