|For Immediate Release
Case # 05HF0372
October 5, 2007
Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
WIFE SENTENCED TO LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE
FOR MURDER-FOR-PROFIT KILLING OF
MARRIED COUPLE ON BOAT IN NEWPORT BEACH
*Husband and gang member co-defendant face the death penalty in January 2008
SANTA ANA – The first defendant to be tried and convicted in the murder-for-profit killing of Thomas and Jackie Hawks was sentenced today to life without the possibility of parole. Jennifer Deleon, 26, Long Beach, was found guilty on November 17, 2006 of two counts of murder with sentencing enhancement allegations for committing multiple murders for financial gain. Jennifer Deleon’s husband and co-defendants Skylar Deleon, 28, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 42, both of Long Beach, are scheduled for trial on January 28, 2008. The Orange County District Attorney is seeking the death penalty on Skylar Deleon and Kennedy.
In the trial of Jennifer Deleon, the People presented evidence that in November of 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. Jennifer Deleon, along with co-defendants Skylar Deleon, Kennedy, Alonso Machain, 22, Pico Rivera, and Myron Gardner Sr., 33, Long Beach, participated in the murder of the Hawks in order to take their boat and life savings.
On November 9, 2004, then-pregnant Jennifer Deleon plotted with her husband to gain the Hawks’ trust by taking her 9-month-old baby to meet them on their boat, which Skylar Deleon and Machain had staked out three days prior. Testimony showed that Kennedy, a hard-core, documented Los Angeles gang member, was recruited to provide “muscle.”
Evidence showed that on November 15, 2004, Skylar Deleon, Kennedy, and Machain took the boat out of the harbor with the Hawks’ on 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. Jennifer and Skylar Deleon were in constant cell phone communication while the murder plot was being executed.
During the trial of Jennifer Deleon, the People showed that Jennifer and Skylar Deleon cleaned the boat with bleach wipes and destroyed evidence and personal items belonging to the Hawks. The Deleons’ took money out of the Hawks’ bank account in Arizona and deposited it in a bank account in Mexico. The People also presented evidence that Jennifer Deleon had multiple phone conversations with Thomas Hawks’ 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.