HOUSTON (FOX 26) - A jury sentenced Leon Jacob on Monday to life in prison for trying to hire a hit man to kill his ex-girlfriend and his new girlfriend's ex-husband.
The jury got an earful as prosecutors explained why they believe Leon Jacob should spend the rest of his life in prison. The sentencing phase of Jacob’s murder-for-hire trial began on Monday. Testimony against Jacob seems to show a pattern of bad and perhaps even criminal behavior long before Friday, which is when he was found guilty of hiring a hitman to kill two people.
“He pulled a knife on me,” Jacob’s ex-wife Annie Morrison told jurors. Intense abuse, including during her pregnancy, is what Morrison says she endured. “He threatened that if I ever left he would kill me. He said no one would ever find my body because he’s a doctor and has access to chemicals,” Morrison said.
Jurors also heard a recording of Jacob ranting at his ex-wife. "I will torture them in front of you. Do you understand me you (expletive). I will cut your (expletive) father’s (expletive) off and your mother’s (expletive) head off.
Morrison testified in this phase of her ex-husband’s murder-for-hire trial. The jury found Jacob guilty Friday and determed his punishment for hiring a hitman to kill his ex-girlfriend Meghan Verikas and his girlfriend, Veterinarian Valerie McDaniel’s ex-husband Mac McDaniel. Valerie McDaniel killed herself after she and Jacob were charged.
Verikas says she became afraid of Jacob after he assaulted her. “He put his hands over my mouth,” Verikas explained.
"I saw a handprint. It looked like a thumb indention and some fingers on her face,” Jacob’s sister-in-law Leslie Jacob described to jurors.
Verikas was married when she began seeing Jacob, so was was McDaniel, as was Darren Gooden’s wife. Gooden secured a restraining order against Jacob after Jacob began an affair with Gooden's wife. “He was following us around, sitting in front of the house, threatening me, threatening to blow up my house,” says Gooden.
"I just remember being scared,” explained Gooden’s teen daughter. The teenager also says Jacob once punched her brother until he doubled over in pain, called police and told the boy to tell officers his father did it, so Mr. Gooden would lose custody. Gooden ultimately won full custody of his kids. A court order banned Jacob from contact with Gooden’s kids.
Jacob’s stepfather testified he “got into his own mother’s face", Houston attorney Golda Jacob. "I got into his face and I started to yell back at him. He shoved me and I ended up on my back,” said Dale Johnson, Golda Jacob’s husband.
Prosecutors played jailhouse recordings of Jacob talking to his mom. "I’m very frustrated I’m still in here. I want a bond,” Jacob told his mom. "If you had listened to me you wouldn’t be in there at all. I remember myself begging you, begging you, begging you,” Golda Jacob told her son. “Whatever,” he responded to his mother.
In the recordings Jacob talks about getting out of jail, doing TV interviews and securing a movie deal. "I told Adam (Jacob’s brother) I want Bradley Cooper to play me in the TV movie,” Jacob said in the jailhouse recording.
Although Jacob is a PhD and was once a medical doctor, prosecutors say he had trouble keeping a job. Jacob’s mother testified her son suffers mental problems and spent 60 days in a mental hospital several years ago. She says her son was diagnosed with depression, bi-polar and a personality disorder.
All three women, Verikas, McDaniel & Morrison were said to be the bread winners in the relationship. The jury had a wide punishment range to consider for Jacob– from probation to spending the rest of his life in prison.