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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
* LAUREN VANE covers public safety and courts. She may be reached
at (714) 966-4618 or by e-mail at email@example.com.