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First conviction in case of couple allegedly thrown overboard

OCT. 19 — Jennifer Deleon, 26 and a mother of two in Long Beach, Calif., was sentenced Oct. 5 to two terms of life in prison without parole for her role in a murder of an Arizona couple aboard their 55-foot yacht.

Deleon was convicted last year with two counts of first-degree murder and murder for financial gain, according to The Log, Southern California’s boating and fishing newsletter. In 2004 Deleon had used her 9-month-old daughter to put the victims, Tom and Jackie Hawks of Prescott, Ariz., at ease before they took her husband Skylar Deleon, suspected accomplice Alonso Machain, and alleged accomplice John Fitzgerald Kennedy on a test cruise off Newport Beach, Calif. The Hawkses were under the assumption they were prospective boat buyers.

Once they were in open water, Mechain told the media they handcuffed the Hawkses, forcing them to sign and fingerprint documents putting the boat in Skylar’s name before they were blindfolded, tied to an anchor and pushed overboard.

Though Deleon was not on the yacht at the time of the murder, she helped her husband cover up the crime when the boat returned to port by cleaning everything with bleach and lying to investigators. Having divorced Skylar, Deleon has since gone by the name Jennifer Henderson. Her children were not present at the sentencing, according to The Log.

“Right now, I can tell you they are 3,600 feet below [in] the cold Pacific Ocean, bound to an anchor, handcuffed and blindfolded — and I think that anchor will hold them down until justice has prevailed,” Ryan Hawks, son of the couple, told the media. “It’s one down and three to go, so we’re not quite there yet … but we’ll be there.”

Deleon’s attorney, Michael Molfetta, stated she wasn’t aware of the plot when she brought her baby to the harbor, and she went along with her husband afterwards because she was afraid of what he would do to her if she refused, according to The Log. However, her husband was previously charged with killing another man in 2003 and stealing $50,000 in cash, so the jury decided Deleon should have known better.