Woman enters not-guilty plea

A Long Beach woman who will stand trial with her husband and another

man for the murder of a Newport Beach couple pleaded not guilty

Monday to charges that she was an accessory to a third murder.

Jennifer Henderson-Deleon, 24, her husband Skylar Deleon, 26, and

Deleon's cousin Michael Lewis Jr., 24, of Arizona, are charged in the

murder of a 45-year-old Anaheim resident, John Jarvi.

The Deleons are already in custody awaiting trial for the murders

of Tom and Jackie Hawks, a retired couple who police believe were

handcuffed to the anchor of their yacht and thrown overboard while

alive in November. Their bodies have not been found.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Matt Murphy, prosecutor in the case against the

Deleons in the Hawkses' killing, said Monday the two murder cases

have a common link.

"I think that, perhaps, the clearest pattern is Skylar Deleon has

no problem killing people for money," Murphy said outside of court

Monday.

Charges filed late Thursday allege that Skylar Deleon murdered

Jarvi for financial gain. Jarvi was found with his throat slashed

along a Mexican roadside in December 2003.

Newport Beach detectives arrested the other suspect in the case,

Michael Lewis, on Thursday at his home in Oatman, Ariz., with

assistance from the Mohave County Sheriff's Department.

Deleon and Jarvi met while they were both serving time in a

work-release program at the Seal Beach Jail in December 2003, Murphy

said.

After Jarvi was released, he took out a second mortgage on his

condo and told his mother he was going to Mexico on a "no-lose"

business deal, according to a statement released by the Orange County

district attorney's office.

On Dec. 26, Jarvi reportedly went to his bank in Laguna Beach and

cashed two $25,000 checks; afterward, he telephoned Skylar Deleon,

according to the statement.

Hours later, Skylar Deleon allegedly spent $18,000 in new $100

bills at a boatyard and deposited $21,000 into a joint account he

held with his wife. The Deleons were also seen buying a $2,200

wedding band, the statement said.

Jarvi made a phone call to Skylar Deleon on Dec. 27, the same day

Deleon and Lewis allegedly drove to Mexico. Jarvi's body was found at

4 p.m. that day on a highway near Ensenada. Skylar Deleon's car

crossed the U.S.-Mexico border about two hours later, the statement

said.

The day of the alleged murder, Deleon was still serving

work-release time at the Seal Beach jail, Murphy said. Jail records

indicate that Alonso Machain, a jailer at the Seal Beach jail,

allowed Deleon into the jail that night much later than he was

supposed to return, Murphy said.

Machain, 21, of Pico Rivera, is one of the five defendants charged

in the murder of the Hawkses. Machain, along with co-defendant Myron

Gardner, 42, of Long Beach, will be tried separately from the Deleons

and John Kennedy, 40, of Long Beach, the fifth defendant awaiting

trial for the Hawkses' murders.

The Deleons and Kennedy will be arraigned Aug. 30 in Central Court

in Santa Ana. Gardner and Machain are set to appear in court Oct. 7

for a preliminary hearing.

Skylar Deleon and Lewis were present in court Monday but were not

arraigned because they did not have attorneys present.

According to the Orange County District Attorney's office,

Deleon's attorney for the preliminary hearing, Ed Welbourn, may no

longer be representing him.

Welbourn could not be reached for comment.

For the Jarvi case, Lewis will be arraigned today and Skylar

Deleon Thursday; both hearings will be held in Harbor Court in

Newport Beach.

Dressed in jail-issue clothing and clutching a Bible, Deleon

stared out into the gallery Monday. When he caught the eye of his

sobbing grandmother, he broke down and cried.

When the Deleons separately entered the custody box, Lewis' mother

and his pregnant wife, seated in the courtroom, were visibly upset.

Each time either Deleon entered the courtroom, Lewis' mother got up

and walked to the back of the courtroom. With her chest heaving, she

glared angrily at each of them.

Michael Molfetta, who is representing Henderson-Deleon in both

cases, maintains his client is a victim of her husband's manipulative

personality.

"Jennifer Deleon is a victim of Skylar's chronic and rampant

lying," Molfetta said. "In a way, this is another sign, and a very

tangible sign, of how Skylar has through the years manipulated her."

Murphy said the Hawks murder trial will bring out evidence to the

contrary.

"Jennifer Deleon is not a victim in this case," Murphy said.

"Thomas and Jackie Hawks and John Jarvi and their families are the

victims in this case."

Jennifer Deleon is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 25 for a

pretrial hearing and Sept. 1 for a preliminary hearing in the Jarvi

murder case.

* LAUREN VANE covers public safety and courts. She may be reached

at (714) 966-4618 or by e-mail at lauren.vaneo7@latimes.comf7.

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