Jury selection began this week in the trial of Skylar Deleon, the alleged ‘mastermind’ behind the 2004 disappearance of Newport Beach-based cruisers Tom and Jackie Hawks. Prosecutors contend that Deleon, along with two accomplices, lured the Hawkses into a test sail of the 55-ft trawler, Well Deserved, they had for sale. Once at sea, prosecutors say, the three overpowerd the couple, tied them to an anchor and threw them overboard. Later, Deleon and his pregnant wife, Jennifer Deleon, supposedly tried to use documents the Hawkses were forced to sign to gain access to their finances.
A jury found Jennifer Deleon guilty on two counts of murder — she wasn’t aboard the test sail but the state proved she’d used her pregnancy and young child to gain the trust of Tom and Jackie Hawks — and sentenced her to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parol. The prosecution is going for the death penalty in Skylar Deleon’s case. The selection of the jury will take a couple weeks, then the horrifying details of the case will be heard once again.
The trial of John Kennedy, one of the alleged accomplices, is slated for January. The other man who claims to have been aboard that day, Alonso Machain, has cooperated with authorities in hopes of a lighter sentence. His trial and that of Myron Gardner, the man who supposedly put Deleon in touch with Kennedy, have yet to be announced.