August 16, 2005

Ex-child star, wife to stand trial in Calif murder

By Tori Richards

SANTA ANA, California (Reuters) - A former child actor and
his wife were ordered to stand trial on Tuesday for the murder
of a wealthy California couple who, prosecutors say, were tied
to the anchor of their yacht and thrown overboard alive, never
to be seen again.

Orange County Superior Court Judge John Conley ordered
26-year-old Skylar Deleon, who once starred in the "Power
Rangers" TV series, and his wife, 24-year-old Jennifer
Henderson Deleon, to stand trial for the murders after a
two-day preliminary hearing in Santa Ana, south of Los Angeles.

Also bound over for trial in the case, which baffled police
for months as they searched for the missing couple, were a
member of the Crips street gang and a prison guard who are
accused of helping carry out a conspiracy to steal the 55-foot
(17-meter) luxury yacht "Well Deserved."

"It's haunting to think these nice, loving people were
trying to hold their breaths as they sank to the bottom of the
ocean," Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy said during the
hearing. "This is as cold-blooded as it gets."

Prosecutors say Deleon came up with the plot after spotting
the yacht for sale in a boating magazine last November and
meeting owners Thomas Hawks, 57, and his 47-year-old wife

He is accused of enlisting the help of 40-year-old gang
member John Fitzgerald Kennedy and ex-jailer Alonso Machain,
21, to carry out the murder on November 15, 2004. Machain has
since confessed to police and will be tried separately.

Attorneys for the Deleons rejected the charges and during
the hearing attacked the credibility of Machain, who is
expected to be a star witness for the prosecution.

A police detective testified during the hearing that Deleon
and his then-pregnant wife posed as interested buyers and
convinced the Hawks to take the yacht on a test run.

Miles off the coast of Newport Beach, prosecutors say,
Thomas and Jackie Hawks were attacked with a stun gun,
handcuffed and gagged with duct tape. After signing over power
of attorney to one assailant, they were tied to the boat's
66-pound (30-kg) anchor and thrown overboard.

The couple was reported missing by relatives and police
were led to the Deleons, who produced a bill of sale for the
yacht and the power of attorney. Authorities believe the bill
of sale was falsified.

Police also found that Deleon had unsuccessfully tried to
access the Hawks' bank account in Arizona using the power of