FIRST DEFENDANT FOUND GUILTY IN MURDER-FOR-PROFIT PLOT FOR KILLING HUSBAND AND WIFE IN NEWPORT BEACH

OCDASeal

Orange County District Attorney
Press Release


Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701

For Immediate Release
November 17, 2006

Contact:

Susan Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
(714) 347-8408 Office
(714) 292-2718 Cell

FIRST DEFENDANT FOUND GUILTY IN MURDER-FOR-PROFIT PLOT FOR KILLING HUSBAND AND WIFE
IN NEWPORT BEACH

*Her husband and gang member co-defendant face the death penalty in January

SANTA ANA –Jennifer Deleon, 24, Long Beach, was found guilty today of the Newport Beach murder of Thomas and Jackie Hawks.  Jennifer Deleon is the first of three defendants to be tried and was convicted of two counts of murder with allegations for committing multiple murders for financial gain.  She now faces a possible sentence of life without the possibility of parole, and is scheduled to be sentenced on February 23, 2007.  Her husband, Skylar Deleon, 26, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 40, both of Long Beach, are scheduled to go to trial on January 29, 2007.  The Orange County District Attorney is seeking the death penalty on Skylar Deleon and Kennedy. 

The People presented evidence in trial that in November 2004, Thomas and Jackie Hawks placed an advertisement for their 55-foot boat named “Well Deserved” for $440,000.  They wanted to spend more time with their new grandchild in Arizona.  Jennifer Deleon participated in the murder of the Hawks to take their boat and life savings with Skylar Deleon, Kennedy, Alonso Machain, 22, Pico Rivera, and Myron Gardner Sr., 33, Long Beach. 

The evidence presented showed Skylar Deleon and Machain staked out the boat and the victims on November 6th.  Jennifer Deleon, who was pregnant at the time, gained the trust of the Hawks by bringing her 9-month old baby to meet the Hawks on November 9th.  Testimony showed Kennedy, a well documented, hard-core, Los Angeles gang member, was recruited to provide “muscle”.  On November 15th, Machain testified that he, Skylar Deleon, and Kennedy took the boat out of the harbor, overpowered the Hawks, forced them to sign the transfer of title documents, handcuffed and tied them to the anchor, and drowned them.  Jennifer and Skylar Deleon were in constant cell phone communication while the murder plot was being executed.   

Evidence was presented in trial that Jennifer and Skylar Deleon cleaned the boat with bleach wipes and destroyed evidence and personal items belonging to the Hawks.  They had the Hawks’ sign ownership papers and a power of attorney, and bribed a notary to notarize the papers with backdates.  The Deleons took money out of the Hawks bank account in Arizona and placing it in a bank account in Mexico.  The People also presented evidence that Jennifer Deleon had multiple phone conversations with Thomas Hawk’s brother after the couple disappeared, during which she told him that her and her husband had purchased the yacht.  Jennifer Deleon also lied to police on multiple occasions during taped interviews.      

On January 16, 2005, Skylar Deleon was arrested while he was trying to leave for Mexico.  Machain was arrested on March 2, 2005, Gardner was arrested the next day, Kennedy was arrested a week later, and Jennifer Deleon was arrested on April 8, 2005.  Skylar Deleon was charged with a “Strike” from a 2003 residential burglary case.  Kennedy was charged with a “Strike” from a 1988 attempted murder case.  During the preliminary examination held in 2005, Jennifer Deleon laughed during the hearing while the grieving Hawks family watched. 

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