The murder trial of Sabrina Limon has become one of the most highly watched cases in Kern County Superior Court in years.
Limon, now 37, is accused of planning the shooting death of her husband, Robert Limon, who was 38 when he was shot to death in a Tehachapi rail yard on Aug. 17, 2014. She is on trial for first-degree murder and could face a life prison term if convicted.
Her former boyfriend, Jonathan Hearn, now 27, has admitted he fired the fatal shot. In exchange for his testimony against Sabrina Limon, prosecutors reduced the murder charge against him to voluntary manslaughter. He pleaded guilty to that charge and will face a 25-year prison term.
Hearn took the witness stand Thursday. He testified he and Sabrina Limon contrived the plot because they were in love and wanted to be together. They wanted to raise the Limons' two children together and wanted to get $300,000 in life insurance and the continuing benefits afforded railroad workers.
In his opening statement, Defense Attorney Richard Terry painted Sabrina Limon as a victim.
He said she was unsophisticated and was dominated by her husband, who was a controlling, manipulative person who forced her into sex parties and relationships with other couples.
Terry said Sabrina Limon fell in love with the younger, charming Hearn, who treated her respectfully and shared her deeply held Christian beliefs.
Terry said the killing was Hearn's idea. The only evidence Sabrina Limon was involved in the plot comes from Hearn, Terry said. He said Hearn is a "cold-blood, calculating killer" whose testimony should be regarded with skepticism.
The case is being prosecuted by one of the biggest stars of the Kern County District Attorney's Office – Eric Smith.
In 2014, the state DA's association named Smith the California Outstanding Prosecutor of the Year after he brought eight cases to verdict in one year. Seven of those trials were murder cases which resulted in six convictions and one hung jury. The six convictions resulted in one death sentence, four defendants sentenced to life with no possibility of parole, and one defendant sentenced to 50 years to life.
The Sabrina Limon trial began Monday, Sept. 11 and is expected to last until mid-October.
Full In-Court Trial Coverage
- Aug. 19 – Rob and Sabrina get married.
- Nov. – Sabrina and Jonathan meet at Costo. Affair begins, according to Hearn.
- Dec. – Jonathan begins plotting murder, according to Hearn.
- Mar. / Apr. – Robert found out about affair, according to Hearn.
- Apr. 24 / 25 – Delivers poison according to Hearn.
- Aug. 17 – Robert dies at BNSF railway, according to KCSO.
- Sep. – Jason tips Detective Meyer about Jonathan and Sabrina's affair, according to Jason Bernatene testimony.
- Nov. 13 – "This is our guy" text sent to Sabrina from Detective Meyer. Detectives have honed in on Jonathan Hearn as suspect.
- Nov. 18 – Jonathan Hearn is arrested at fire station. Sabrina Limon is arrested at elementary school in the death of Robert Limon. Sabrina Limon was later released pending further investigation.
- Nov. 20 – Hearn pleads not guilty.
- Jan. 6 – Sabrina is arrested again.
- Jan. 9 – Jonathan Hearn takes plea deal.
- Jan. 10 – Sabrina Limon pleads not guilty. Sabrina's friend Karen Hudgins is arrested for post trial assault.
- Jan. 12 – Hudgins pleads not guilty to two felony charges of threatening a witness, as well as misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and battery on a peace officer. She was released after posting bond on $50,000 bail.
- Feb. 7 – Sabrina Limon's preliminary hearing - also Hearn's 27th birthday.
2017 - Sabrina Limon Trial Begins
- Sept. 11 - Monday – Day 1 of the Sabrina Limon trial. Bombshell opening statements in Sabrina Limon murder trial.
- Sept. 12 - Tuesday – Day 2 of the Sabrina Limon trial. Alleged swingers take the stand.
- Sept. 13 - Wednesday – Day 3 of the Sabrina Limon trial. Jonathan Hearn's family takes the stand.
- Sept. 14 - Thursday – Day 4 of the Sabrina Limon trial. Jonathan Hearn takes the stand.
- Sept. 15 – Day 5 of the Sabrina Limon trial. Wiretaps. Defense Attorney Terry chips his tooth, court is excused two hours early.
- Sept. 17 – Day 6 of the Sabrina Limon trial. Wiretaps. Jonathan Hearn tells Sabrina about Psalms bible verse. Psalms 51 is essentially King David's plea for mercy and forgiveness from God, after sleeping with Bathsehba, another man's wife and having her husband killed.
- Sept. 18 – Day 7 of the Sabrina Limon trial. More wiretaps.
- Sept. 19 – Day 8 of the Sabrina Limon trial. More wiretaps.
- Sept. 20 – Day 9 of the Sabrina Limon trial. Defense Attorney begins cross-examination of Hearn. Addresses banana pudding inconsistency.
- Sept. 25 – Day 10 of the Sabrina Limon trial. Hearn wraps up testimony.
- Sept. 26 – Day 11 of the Sabrina Limon trial. Interrogation video.
- Sept. 27 – Day 12 of the Sabrina Limon trial. Prosecution rests.
- Sept. 28 – Day 13 of the Sabrina Limon trial. Defense begins, Limon kids testify. Sabrina Limon takes the stand.
- Sept. 29 – Day 14 of the Sabrina Limon trial. Prosecution cross-examines Sabrina Limon.
- Oct. 2 – Day 15 of the Sabrina Limon trial. Prosecution continues cross-examination of Limon.
- Oct. 3 – Day 16.
- Oct. 4 – Day 17 of the Sabrina Limon trial. Deliberations.
- Oct. 5 – Day 18 of the Sabrina Limon trial. Verdict reached.