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.