|For Immediate Release
September 6, 2006
Public Affairs Counsel
(714) 347-8408 Office
(714) 323-4486 Cell
OCDA SEEKS DEATH PENALTY FOR TWO LONG BEACH MEN FOR MURDERING HUSBAND AND WIFE ON THEIR NEWPORT BEACH YACHT
SANTA ANA – District Attorney Tony Rackauckas announced today that he will pursue the death penalty in the case against Skylar Deleon, 26, of Long Beach, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 40, of Long Beach. Skylar Deleon and Fitzgerald, along with three other defendants, are charged with the 2004 special circumstances murder of Jackie and Thomas Hawks in Newport Beach. A jury trial is scheduled to begin on January 29, 2007, for this case. Skylar Deleon is also charged with the murder of John Jarvi, as well as soliciting the murder of his father and cousin while he was in prison awaiting trial on the two pending murder cases.
The District Attorney convened a Special Circumstances Committee to decide the mitigating and aggravating factors in this case. As to both Skylar Deleon and Kennedy, the Committee found that they are charged with multiple murders and murder for financial gain. The Committee found particularly aggravating the cruel and cold blooded way in which two innocent people were murdered. The Committee found aggravating the manner in which the Hawks were murdered — tied together to an anchor, thrown into a deep frigid ocean, and literally watching as their dreams floated away as they were drowning to death.
In addition and prior to the Hawks murder, Deleon is also charged with murdering John Jarvi for financial gain. He has a prior 2003 Strike conviction for committing a residential burglary armed with a firearm, duct tape and handcuffs. In the Hawks murder, Deleon is accused of planning their murder for days, coordinating with his wife and using their infant child to gain the Hawks’ trust, and hiring “muscle” to murder two people. The Committee also considered that after Deleon was charged with the Hawks murder, he was charged with soliciting the murder of his own father, a witness. The Committee also considered that after Deleon was charged with the Jarvi murder, he was charged with murder for hire of his own cousin, a witness.
As for Kennedy, the Committee considered his prior Strike for an attempted murder conviction in 1988. The Committee found that even though Kennedy was late in joining the conspiracy, without Kennedy providing the muscle, this crime could not have been carried out. They considered how callous and nonchalant Kennedy acted after they murdered the Hawks. They also considered Mr. Kennedy’s gang membership in a Los Angeles County street gang as an aggravating factor. Based on the factors listed above and with the recommendation of the Committee, the District Attorney decided to pursue the death penalty for Skylar Deleon and Kennedy.
“The decision to seek the death penalty is the most serious responsibility I have as the District Attorney, but there are some murders that are committed with such a malignant heart, such callousness, that the only just penalty is death. This was a clear case,” stated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “These two joined in this cruel and callous murder. Deleon the brain, Kennedy the brawn. Now they will face the same penalty and their fate will be decided by the People of Orange County. ”
The OCDA has sought the punishment of death in 33 cases. Of those cases, Orange County juries recommended that 13 of them receive the ultimate penalty of death. Nine of the 22 received life without the possibility of parole. 11 are pending jury trials.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy in the Homicide Unit will prosecute all three related cases. The Newport Beach Police Department is continuing to investigate this case. They have conducted over 100 witness interviews, reviewed thousands of documents, and collected and analyzed hundreds of items of evidence. Anyone with information about these cases should contact District Attorney Investigator Kathy Tomlinson at 714-347-8483.