Stepdad’s Conviction Upheld In Strangulation Murder

TEEN DISCOVERED SHE WAS BEING FILMED IN BATHROOM

Joshua Daniel Lelevier [Photo courtesy Pima County Sheriff's Department]

The Pima County man sentenced in 2019 to life in prison for the premeditated murder of his 13-year-old stepdaughter is not entitled to a new trial, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled last week.

Joshua Daniel Lelevier appealed his convictions and sentences for causing the May 2017 death of Jayden Glomb, whose body was found clad in pajamas in a desert area a short distance from her home. He was also found guilty of abandonment of a dead body and other felonies related to the sexual exploitation of a minor.

Lelevier’s appeal argued that the trial judge made a series of erroneous evidential rulings, improperly admitted evidence, and erred in denying a defense motion for acquittal. However, the unanimous appellate court opinion released Oct. 9 affirmed Lelevier’s convictions and sentences, which include life in prison without possibility of release.

“We view the facts in the light most favorable to upholding the jury’s verdicts, resolving all reasonable inferences against Lelevier,” according to the unanimous opinion authored by Judge Peter Eckerstrom. “We review the trial court’s rulings on the admissibility of evidence for abuse of discretion…and we find no reversible error in any of the challenged rulings.”

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Lelevier has until Nov. 9 to file a petition for review of the appellate decision to the Arizona Supreme Court. He is assigned to the Arizona State Prison Complex – Eyman in Florence where is his serving his natural life sentence which is to be followed by 34 years.

Court records show Lelevier reported Glomb missing in the early hours of May 11, 2017. The girl’s body was found later that day about two miles away from home. An autopsy revealed she died of asphyxiation; there was a ligature mark on her throat, according to the medical examiner.

A jury empaneled by the Pima County Superior Court found Lelevier guilty in November 2018 of premeditated murder, as well as felony murder for causing the teen’s death during the commission of a felony – in this case kidnapping.

On appeal Lelevier argued that kidnapping could not be a predicate offense to felony murder as the single act of strangulation could not be used to prove felony murder as well as kidnapping by restraint. The court of appeals saw it differently.

“The jury heard ample evidence that Lelevier restrained (Glomb) at least for the amount of time necessary to strangle her to death,” the opinion notes. “While accomplishing this kidnapping, he did actually kill (Glomb).”

Investigators believe Lelevier drafted a fake suicide note on Glomb’s computer before she disappeared because she discovered he was surreptitiously filming her in the bathroom. The teen apparently told a friend about the incident, stating she was “terrified” of Lelevier. But Glomb did not tell her mother.

There was evidence that Lelevier drilled holes in a wall connecting one of the home’s bathrooms to his computer room where detectives later found a number of illicit images of the girl on Lelevier’s computer.

Lelevier is believed to have strangled his stepdaughter in the family’s vehicle shortly after midnight before driving Glomb to a remote area. He then returned home, telling his wife the girl was missing.

Glomb’s blood was later found in the vehicle and tire tracks comparable to the vehicle were found near her barefoot body, which showed no indication of walking in the desert.

Lelevier was not arrested until after Glomb’s funeral. He took the stand in his own defense during the trial, but jurors found him guilty of all eight counts.