Man is freed in plea deal

The family of a slain Newport Beach couple are OK that the man who helped put the eventual killers together was freed after a plea agreement struck with prosecutors gave him credit for time served and sent him on his way, they said Thursday.

In a plea agreement struck with Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Matt Murphy on March 19, Myron Gardner, 45, a former Long Beach gang member, was released from Orange County Jail after nearly four years behind bars. Originally charged with two counts of murder for profit and accessory after the fact, Gardner pleaded guilty last week to the accessory charge and was sentenced to a year in jail. Because he’s been in custody since 2005, he was given credit for time served and released just after 9 that night.

Gardner pleaded guilty to accessory to murder after the fact for putting John Fitzgerald Kennedy in touch with Skylar Deleon, the mastermind behind a plot to deceive Tom and Jackie Hawks from Newport Beach, subdue them aboard their boat, gain access to their financial accounts, then kill them at sea.

Gardner testified during Kennedy’s trial that he thought he was only giving Deleon backup for a drug deal in Mexico, he never heard of the Hawkses or thought anyone would be killed. He actually put Kennedy, the muscle, in touch with the brains behind the elaborate plot to overpower the new grandparents.

“I’m sure he was an extremely bad person at one time, and he wants to make a change in his life,” said Ryan Hawks, son of the late couple. “I hope he takes this experience as life-altering and does it for the better. It sounded like he was kind of on the right track before he met Skylar [Deleon].”

“I know, judging by the way he was trying to change his life, if he had known what was going on, he wouldn’t have had a part in that,” Hawks added.

“Under all the circumstances, it was the right thing to do. He expressed his condolences,” Murphy said.

Juries recommended Deleon and Kennedy receive the ultimate punishment, and both are expected to be sentenced in the coming weeks. Deleon’s ex-wife, Jennifer Henderson, was sentenced to life without parole in 2007. A fifth person accused in the plot who has testified for the prosecutors, Alonso Machain, is expected to cut a deal later this year.

Reporter JOSEPH SERNA may be reached at (714) 966-4619 or at

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