BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The gunman in one of Kern’s most notorious murders could be released seven years earlier than anticipated.
Jonathan Hearn made national news after he was arrested for the murder of his lover’s husband.
The case became even more explosive after Hearn agreed to testify against his former lover, Sabrina Limon, in exchange for a plea deal of 25 years and four months behind bars.
He was facing life without parole.
Prosecutors and detectives suspected Limon was instrumental in the plot to kill her husband almost from the start. But without Hearn’s testimony, they couldn’t charge her.
Once he started talking, it seemed the case against Limon was sealed.
Not long after Limon was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life, Hearn was formally given his sentence and sent to prison in November 2017.
While the agreed upon sentence between Hearn and the District Attorney’s office was 25 years and four months, Hearn was required to serve only 85 percent of the sentence. With his three years of time served, he entered prison with just about 18 years left on his sentence.
His expected release was November 2035, when he would be 45 years old.
But a check of CDCR’s Inmate Locator today showed Hearn is eligible for parole in November 2028.
It appears that’s because of a new law that gives certain inmates who committed their crime when they were 25 or younger the possibility of early parole.
Looking at the guidelines for youth offender parole, Hearn checks the boxes.
He was 24 when he killed Rob Limon.
Under youth offender parole, certain inmates, like Hearn, are eligible for parole after serving a full 14 years.
Essentially, the parole eligibility period begins one day one of year 15 for Hearn.
Youth offender parole is similar to regular parole in terms of the board wanting to see how you’ve changed for the better, and being assured you won’t be a danger to society if released.
But the main difference is the parole board for youth offender parole has to give great weight to the fact that the offender was considered a youth.
Information provided to inmates says, “The fact that you were young at the time of the crime should count as one reason in favor of granting you parole.”
Even though Hearn’s plea deal with prosecutors did not give him any options for early parole – he was meant to serve out his agreed upon sentence – the way the law has changed overrides the plea deal.
But parole is never a sure thing. Hearn could be denied and have to serve the remainder of his sentence.
Hearn’s attorney says he’s thriving in prison. He’s leading a Bible study among inmates, taking classes and participating in various programs.
If released after 14 years, Hearn will be 39 years old.
The youth offender parole program will undoubtedly have an effect on hundreds of convicted Kern killers and their possible early release.
It’s an issue we’ll continue to follow.
A check of Sabrin’s Limon’s inmate information shows she’ll be eligible after serving 20 years in prison instead of 25 as originally scheduled.
This is something we’ll continue to explore.