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Man charged in Newport Beach yacht killings gets death sentence

May 1, 2009 | 12:35 pm

A Long Beach gang member was sentenced to death this morning for helping tie Thomas and Jackie Hawks to the anchor of their yacht and then throwing them overboard off the coast of Newport Beach in a plot to steal the vessel and plunder the couple’s life savings.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 43, will join accomplice Skylar Deleon on death row in the murders of the Hawkses, who were last seen in November 2004 leaving Newport Harbor aboard their 55-foot yacht, Well Deserved. The case drew international headlines and sent a wave of fear through boating communities around the world.

Deleon, who masterminded the crime, was sentenced to death last month. His ex-wife, Jennifer Deleon, was found guilty in 2006 of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Another man on board the boat when the couple was killed, Alonso Machain, cooperated with the authorities and is awaiting trial.

-- Christine Hanley