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California Briefing / Santa Ana

Jury orders death in yacht case

February 28, 2009|Christopher Goffard

An Orange County jury ordered the death penalty Friday for John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a 43-year-old Long Beach man who was convicted earlier this month of throwing a couple off their yacht to their death in the ocean.

Kennedy, a gang member, was convicted of murdering Thomas and Jackie Hawks in Newport Beach in 2004 as part of a plot to take the couple's 55-foot yacht and life savings. Prosecutors said he handcuffed the couple, tied them to the anchor and pushed them into the ocean. He then drank beer from the boat refrigerator and fished as the yacht returned to port.

Kennedy will be formally sentenced March 27. Last year, a jury convicted his co-defendant, Skylar Deleon of Long Beach, and ordered he be put to death. He will be sentenced on March 20.

Deleon's ex-wife, Jennifer Deleon, was found guilty by a jury in 2006 of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Two other alleged accomplices, Myron Gardner and Alonso Machain, are awaiting trial on murder charges.

-- Christopher Goffard

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