Leon Jacob's ex-girlfriend testifies at his murder-for-hire trial
HOUSTON – The ex-girlfriend of a man accused of orchestrating a plan to have her killed testified Wednesday at his trial.
Leon Jacob and his ex-girlfriend, Meghan Verikas, faced each other in court, just 30 feet away from one another.
Jacob and Valerie McDaniel, his then-girlfriend, were charged last March with soliciting capital murder after they were accused of trying to arrange the deaths of Verikas and McDaniel’s ex-husband, Mack McDaniel.
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Valerie McDaniel later took her own life by jumping from the River Oaks high-rise where she lived.
Investigators said Jacob and Valerie McDaniel offered $20,000 and two Cartier watches as payment for the hits.
Verikas said Jacob continued to attempt to contact her even after the court said to stay away.
"'Did you seriously get a protective order against me?'" one email from Jacob to Verikas read.
Prosecutor Samantha Knecht flipped through a series of email communications from Jacob to Verikas that she said followed the protective order.
"Subject line, trust me. Trust me my love now we have real issues," another email read.
When the prosecutor then asked Verikas if she took that as a threat, Verikas replied, "Yes."
Verikas said Houston police contacted her. She understood her life was in danger and cooperated.
She testified investigators asked her to stage photos to make it appear as though she had been kidnapped.
"I sat in a chair in a warehouse and they zip-tied my hands and my feet and put duct tape around my mouth to make me look as though I had been kidnapped. I had sat in that parking lot for an extended period of time so I was crying and really upset," Verikas said.
The other target of the alleged plot, Mack McDaniel, took the stand after Verikas. He described how he worked with police to fake his own death after police said his life was in danger. He described the example as "beyond imaginable."
Mack McDaniel said police made it look as though he had been fatally shot in the head during a carjacking. Police would later use the images as proof that McDaniel was gone.
He grew emotional when he explained that his thoughts were for his then-8-year-old daughter.
"If they would have been successful, Natalie would have not had any parents," he said.
On Tuesday, the first day of testimony, prosecutors showed a staged photo that depicted Verikas’ death, saying Jacob did nothing to save her and wanted her dead.
The defense said Jacob wanted to spend his life with Verikas.
The trial is expected to last at least a week.
Reporter Ryan Korsgard is live tweeting from the courtroom. Follow along in the window below:
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