Jury vote on man who drowned cruising couple

A jury in California has recommended death for a man convicted of murdering two owners of a yacht by lashing them to an anchor and throwing them into the sea.

Skylar Deleon, 29, sat motionless as the jury announced its decision following nearly two days of deliberation in Orange County Superior Court.

Deleon was convicted last month of three counts of first-degree murder, which included the 2003 death of an Anaheim man and the killings of Tom and Jackie Hawks on their yacht in 2004.

Deleon killed the Hawks after feigning interest in buying their 55 ft yacht,Well Deserved, based at Newport Beach in California. Prosecutors say he overpowered them on a test sail, tied them to an anchor and threw them into the Pacific Ocean as they begged for their lives.

After the killings, prosecutors said, Deleon and his then-wife Jennifer Henderson scrubbed the boat clean with bleach wipes in Newport Harbor. The Hawkses’ bodies were never found.

Tom Hawks’ son Ryan said he was grateful the jury wasn’t swayed by the defense. “I’ve been waiting four years for this, and this isn’t for me,” he said. “This is for my parents.

“Skylar is going to be sitting in that jail cell, socializing with his pals for 40 years before he is going to receive the needle, and my parents are still dead.”

Judge Frank F. Fasel will consider the jury’s recommendation when he sentences Deleon on Jan. 16.

Pohlson had pleaded with jurors to help spare his client’s life, arguing Deleon was abused by a drug dealing father, leaving him predisposed to violence.

“It is not believable,” Proscecutor Matt Murphy told media after the jury’s announcement. “This guy had every opportunity to be a productive member of society and chose to murder these people for money.”

Deleon’s former wife Henderson was convicted in 2006, after only four hours of Jury deliberation, of murder and murder for financial gain in the Hawkses’ deaths. She was sentenced to two terms of life in prison without parole.

Three other men are also charged with the Hawkses’ murders, including two allegedly on the boat at the time. They have pleaded not guilty.