Conviction in case of missing boaters

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NOV. 24 — A California woman was found guilty last week of helping her husband and several other accomplices kill a wealthy couple for their yacht.

The woman, who is 25, was found guilty last Friday on two counts of first-degree murder, according to an Associated Press news report. The yacht owners — Tom and Jackie Hawks — were killed in November 2004 after being tied to an anchor and thrown overboard.

Prosecutors argue that the woman and her husband approached the Hawkses about purchasing the yacht, called Well Deserved, and talked them into taking them for a ride on the boat, the report says. Once under way the accused couple and a number of other accomplices allegedly overpowered the Hawkses, forced them to sign over ownership of the yacht, tied them to an anchor and threw them overboard. Their bodies have not been found.

Prosecutors say the couple cleaned the yacht with bleach and tried to cover up the murder by making it appear that the Hawkses moved to Mexico, the report says. The couple also apparently attempted to withdraw money from the Hawkses’ bank account.

Because prosecutors did not seek the death penalty the convicted woman will face life in prison without parole when she is sentenced in February, the news report says. The woman’s husband and an accomplice could face death sentences if they are convicted. Two other men have been charged with the murders and face separate trials.

— Jason Fell