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Deleon pleads not guilty to murder plot

Charged with killing Newport Beach couple, says he didn't order hit on his father, cousin.

August 01, 2006|By Lauren Vane

A Long Beach man awaiting trial for allegedly slaying a Newport Beach couple pleaded not guilty Monday in Orange County Superior Court to charges that he solicited someone to kill his father and cousin.

Skylar Deleon, 26, has been charged with asking a fellow inmate to kill his father, John Jacobson, and his cousin, Michael Lewis. Deleon, along with four others including his wife, are charged with killing Tom and Jackie Hawks, a retired couple who lived aboard their boat in Newport Harbor.

In addition to the Hawks couple's slaying, Deleon is also accused of killing 45-year-old Anaheim resident John Jarvi who was found dead in Mexico in 2003. Deleon's cousin, Lewis, was charged with accessory-after-the fact in the Jarvi slaying.

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Deleon's father and cousin are described as "important witnesses" in both the Hawks and Jarvi murder cases, Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. District Attorney Matt Murphy said.

Investigators believe Deleon was the brains behind the horrific death of the Hawks, who were in the process of selling their 55-foot yacht Well Deserved when they went missing in November 2004. Deleon and his wife allegedly convinced the Hawks to believe they were interested in purchasing Well Deserved. When the Hawks took Deleon and two others out on a test cruise, they were allegedly handcuffed to the yacht's anchor and thrown overboard, authorities said.

At Monday's hearing, 30-year-old Ryan Hawks, the couple's son, sat less than six feet away from Deleon, who was in the custody box. With his head resting on his hands, Hawks sat forward in his chair and calmly stared at one of the men accused of killing his parents.

"I want him to know that I'm here," Hawks said.

Deleon's courtroom behavior, including moments when Deleon looked to be crying, is all an act, Hawks said.

"I see no remorse … it's just a show for the cameras," Hawks said.

Information obtained by Newport Beach police detectives led prosecutors to file the newest charges against Deleon. He allegedly asked a fellow inmate to kill his father in January 2005 and put a hit out on his cousin July 26, district attorney's office spokeswoman Susan Schroeder said.

Under the watchful eye of Newport Beach police, Murphy said the plotted murders of Deleon's father and cousin never came close to happening.

If convicted of the most recent charges, Deleon could face up to 11 additional years in prison, Murphy said.

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