HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The ex-girlfriend who was the alleged target in a murder-for-hire plot by a former Houston doctor testified against him, at times choking back tears.
Meghan Verikas said she dated Leon Jacob for more than two years but broke off the relationship in January 2017 after he became physically violent. Verikas said Jacob refused to accept the break-up and kept trying to contact her through repeated calls, texts and emails.
Once, she says he showed up in a rage at his brother's house where she was staying. She hid in a closet while he screamed derogatory names while looking for her.
"I was terrified, that he would come into his brother's home with his niece sleeping and say something like that," Verikas said.
Verikas got a two-year protective order and says Jacob persisted.
Ultimately Jacob was charged with assault and stalking. Authorities say he hired someone he believed to be a hitman to scare her or kill her if necessary to keep her from testifying against him. During several meetings, that undercover officer recorded audio of their conversations.
They discussed the possibility of just convincing Verikas to leave town, or planting drugs on her to try and discredit her. In one conversation, you could hear Jacob talking about Verikas being killed.
He said, "I prefer not to have to do that but my survival is more important." Jacob, a former doctor, continued, "I worked too hard the last 20 years in education to get where I am to have this bite me in the butt and everything I worked for."
Jacob clenched his jaw and took notes as his attorney read a number of the emails he'd sent Verikas just after their break up, including where he told her they were "soul mates", where he professed his love and his desire to get back together.
But the emails sometimes turned dark.
Verikas read part of one in which he wrote: "Trust me my love, now we have real issues."
"Did you take that as a threat?" asked prosecutor Samantha Knecht.
"Yes," said Verikas.
Prosecutors say Jacob hatched a plot not only to have Verikas killed, but also the ex-husband of his new girlfriend. He began dating well-known Montrose veterinarian Valerie McDaniel. The two paid that undercover police officer, who they believed to be a hitman over $10,000 in cash and jewelry.
Marion "Mac" McDaniel testified as well, telling the jury how he cooperated with police in staging his own murder to help convince Jacob and his ex-wife the killing had been carried out.
"Beyond unimaginable," he said, as he struggled with his emotions on the witness stand.
He described how police used pig blood to make it look like he had been shot in the pictures manufactured by officers.
Jacob said he and McDaniel planned to marry. She killed herself within days of her arrest.
Jacob's attorney says it defies common sense to think that he would try to kill someone who he so loved. Jacob has denied any wrongdoing.
He could be sentenced to up to life in prison if convicted.