VISTA, Calif. -- A former medical supply salesman has been sentenced to 26-years to life in prison for murdering his girlfriend after finding flirtatious text messages on her cell phone.
Jonathan Scott French, 41, was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of 43-year-old Jennifer Stark, a mother of 2 and a court reporter at the Vista Courthouse.
Judge Peter Spinetta called French "a very narcissistic, controlling, manipulative sociopath and con man" who has demonstrated that he is unable to control his rage time and time again.
For the murder, which the judge described as barbaric and cruel, he sentenced French to 26 years to life in prison.
"Mr. French will be in prison for the balance of his life,'' San Diego Superior Court Judge Peter Spinetta said.
"I certainly hope that's the case.''
French maintained that he snapped after finding flirtatious text messages on Stark's cell phone and that he was guilty of voluntary manslaughter, not murder.
French, testifying in his own defense, said he attacked Stark after reading "flirtatious and suggestive'' text messages from someone named Chris.
"I just absolutely snapped,'' the defendant said. "I went from zero to a thousand.''
French said he felt rage like he had never felt before and hit Stark, sending her to the ground.
"I screamed at her, why?'' the defendant testified.
French said he hit Stark a few more times and grabbed the unconscious woman by the neck.
The defendant said he grabbed a knife, but didn't really remember slicing Stark's throat.
The coroner testified Stark's throat was slashed so deeply there were marks on her spine.
She died in the hallway. Her body was discovered by her 15-year-old son.
After he killed Stark, French said he stabbed himself in the leg in an attempt to kill himself.
He said he drove looking for a place to crash, but then he got a flat tire.
Eventually he turned himself in at the Encinitas sheriff's substation.
French has a history of violent behavior.
French had attacked another girlfriend in 1992 after a night of drinking, slamming her against a Dumpster.
The incident led to French's discharge from the Navy.
In 2005, French had an altercation, apparently sparked by road rage, with a then-65-year-old man in Carlsbad.
The man testified French spat in his face and punched him.