A man accused of secretly filming his 13-year-old stepdaughter in the bathroom before strangling her told a jury Friday that he installed hidden cameras to record evidence she was drinking.
Joshua Lelevier is being tried on charges of first-degree murder and sexual exploitation of a minor in connection with the 2017 death of Jayden Glomb. She was reported missing from her Vail home May 11. Later that day, a construction worker found her body in a desert area less than 2 miles from her home.
Lelevier was arrested May 31. Later, in a search of the home, police found two peepholes leading from the den to Jayden’s bathroom, an endoscopic camera and a spy camera. A search of Lelevier’s computer revealed deleted photos and a video of Jayden in the bathroom, dated several weeks before her death.
Lelevier told the jury he fell asleep watching Netflix on his computer in the den the night of May 10, but noticed Jayden’s bedroom door was open when he woke about 1:30 a.m. to respond to his younger son’s night terrors.
Lelevier testified he took the boy to the bathroom and walked him back to his bedroom before returning to Jayden’s room, turning on the light and finding she was gone.
The patio door in the living room was ajar and the blinds partially open. Lelevier said he hadn’t heard anyone leave the house, although the living room was attached to the den where he said he fell asleep.
Lelevier said he drove around the neighborhood searching for Jayden before returning home to wake up his wife, Jayden’s mother, Jessica Oliver, whom he later told jurors was “irritable” after her daughter’s disappearance.
Lelevier said he left the house several times that morning to search for Jayden while waiting for news from police. Later that day, he took his son to Walmart and there received a “frantic” call from his wife, he said. Oliver had seen on social media that a body had been found near their home.
On his way back to the house, Lelevier said he encountered a “blockade” of police near one area he’d searched for Jayden, but didn’t stop to find out what was happening.
“The main reason is I had my 6-year-old son in the car. If it was anything like what Jessica was describing, something that upset her that badly, I didn’t want (him) to get out of the car. We didn’t stop,” Lelevier said.
Defense attorney A. Kate Bouchee Verenna asked Lelevier about the hidden cameras. He said he’d found “numerous” empty beer bottles in Jayden’s bathroom trash in April 2017 and installed the cameras to try to catch her in the act.
Lelevier said he had tried to talk to his wife about the drinking, but she didn’t believe him. He had the cameras delivered to the home April 24. He said that once he saw a video of Jayden undressing, “I realized this wasn’t something I wanted to watch and I shut it off.”
Lelevier called installing the cameras “probably the dumbest thing that I could have decided to do,” saying, “I had absolutely no desire to see Jayden in that state. Absolutely no desire, and it was embarrassing that I went there, that I went that far.”
Prosecutor Jonathan Mosher tore into Lelevier’s testimony during his cross-examination, projecting Jayden’s dimple-faced school photo on a courtroom wall and asking, “Are you telling the jury that that young lady had such a problem with alcohol that you had to buy spy cams and put them in the bathroom to keep an eye on her drinking?”
Lelevier said she did, but Mosher pushed on, asking him why he never told police about her suspected drinking or the hidden cameras during multiple interviews before and after Jayden’s body was found, despite their repeated pleas for any information that could help with the case.
When asked, Lelevier said it wasn’t a coincidence that the hidden cameras were aimed at Jayden’s toilet and shower.
Lelevier was unable to tell the jury about any behaviors or incidents that led him to believe Jayden was drinking, other than the empty beer bottles. He said he threw those away before bringing his concerns to Oliver.
Mosher also addressed the images found on Lelevier’s computer, one showing Jayden in a partial state of undress and another of her on the toilet. During previous testimony, a Tucson police detective said the still images found on the computer could only have been created by taking a screen shot of a video, which Lelevier said Friday he didn’t know how to do.
The trial will resume Tuesday in Pima County Superior Court. Mosher indicated he will recall several witnesses to rebut Lelevier’s testimony.