Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Case # 05HF0372
April 10, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
MAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR MURDER-FOR-PROFIT KILLINGS OF NEWPORT BEACH COUPLE ON THEIR YACHT AND ANOTHER MALE VICTIM ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD IN MEXICO
SANTA ANA – Defendant Skylar Deleon was formally sentenced to receive the death penalty today for the murder-for-profit killings of Thomas and Jackie Hawks on their yacht off Newport Beach in 2004 and John Jarvi on the road to Ensenada, Mexico in 2003. Skylar Deleon, 29, Long Beach, was found guilty by a jury on Oct. 20, 2008, of three counts of special circumstances murder for multiple murders and murder for financial gain. He has a prior strike for a 2003 residential burglary conviction. A jury recommended the death penalty on Nov. 6, 2008.
Skylar Deleon’s ex-wife, Jennifer Deleon, 27, Long Beach, was found guilty by a jury on Nov. 17, 2006, of two counts of murder with sentencing enhancement allegations for committing multiple murders for financial gain. She was sentenced Oct. 5, 2007, to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Co-defendant John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 43, Long Beach, was convicted on Feb. 19, 2009, of felonies for two counts of special circumstances murder for committing multiple murders for financial gain. A jury recommended the death penalty for Kennedy on Feb. 27, 2009. He is scheduled to be formally sentenced May 1, 2009, in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Co-defendant Alonso Machain, 25, Pico Rivera, is charged with felonies for two counts of special circumstances murder for committing multiple murders for financial gain. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Machain is scheduled for pre-trial May 27, 2009, in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. Co-defendant Myron Gardner, 45, Long Beach, who has spent four years in jail awaiting trial on this case and provided truthful testimony during Kennedy’s trial as to what happened, pleaded guilty March 19, 2009, to one felony count of accessory after the fact and was sentenced to one year in jail. He received credit for time served.
In November 2004, Thomas and Jackie Hawks placed an advertisement for their 55-foot boat named “Well Deserved” for $440,000. The couple wanted to spend more time with their new grandchild in Arizona. Skylar Deleon, who changed his name from John Jacobson Jr., was the brain behind the plot to murder the Hawks’ and take their boat and life savings with Machain, Gardner, Kennedy, and his wife Jennifer Deleon.
On Nov. 9, 2004, Skylar Deleon plotted with his then-pregnant wife, Jennifer Deleon, to gain the Hawks’ trust by taking Jennifer Deleon and their 9-month-old baby to meet the Hawks on their boat, which Skylar Deleon and Machain had staked out three days prior. Gardner is accused of recruiting Kennedy, a hard-core, documented Los Angeles gang member, to provide “muscle.”
On Nov. 15, 2004, Skylar Deleon, with the help of Machain and Kennedy, took the boat out of the harbor with the Hawks under the pretense of test driving it for a possible sale. Once out at sea, they overpowered the victims, forced them to sign the transfer of title documents, handcuffed and tied them to the anchor, and drowned them in the ocean. Skylar and Jennifer Deleon were in constant cell phone communication while the murder plot was being executed.
During the guilt phase Machain testified that while