Kern County Superior Court Judge John R. Brownlee denied convicted murderer Sabrina Limon a new trial Wednesday and sentenced her to 25 years to life in prison for the death of her husband, Robert Limon.

Limon, who looked as though she was about to cry as her family entered the courtroom Wednesday, showed no emotion when her sentence was announced.

On the low end, Limon’s 25-year and 16 month sentence is roughly the same amount of time that will be served by Limon’s lover, Redlands firefighter Jonathan Hearn, who admitted to shooting and killing Robert Limon in a Tehachapi trainyard where he worked in 2014. He later testified that he and Limon conspired together to kill Robert in exchange for a 25-year and four month plea deal.

“No amount of time Sabrina spends in prison will ever bring my brother back,” Lydia Marrero, Robert Limon’s sister, told the court Wednesday during an emotional hearing before Sabrina Limon was sentenced.

Robert Limon’s other sister, Chris Wilson, described the last three years as “a journey filled with heartache and pain most people cannot comprehend.”

“Though we are all glad to see this come to an end, we do not rejoice and celebrate,” Wilson said. “We move forward and have faith that the judicial system has prevailed.”

Despite the low-end of the sentence, Limon’s attorney, Sharon Beth Marshall said she’s not optimistic about the possibility her client would be granted parole or ever again see life outside of prison walls.

“I tell my clients that anytime they have an ‘L’ attached at the end of their sentence, you’re not getting out of prison,” Marshall said after the sentencing, visibly dismayed, but resolute in appealing the decision to deny a new trial.

“I told the family this isn’t over,” Marshall said. “We are not done.”

She vowed that she would take the case to the California Supreme Court on appeal, arguing that Limon’s former trial attorney, Richard Terry, failed to properly prepare his client before she took the witness stand. Her testimony was “nothing short of abysmal,” Marshall has said.

At least for now, the sentencing brings to close a high-profile month-long court case that involved sordid affairs among swinging couples, twisted takes on religion and biblical verses, claims of poisoned pudding and deceit. The case even became the subject of a book — “Better Off Dead” — and attracted the attention of Dateline NBC, which aired an episode on the case called “Secrets in Silver Lakes,” referring to the lakefront community in Helendale where the Limon family lived.

Hearn and Limon had been carrying on an affair behind Robert Limon’s back for months. Hearn confessed to traveling, on Aug. 17, 2014, to a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train yard in Tehachapi, where Robert Limon worked, and shooting him to death. Prosecutors said that Sabrina Limon conspired with Hearn to plan her husband’s murder. Jurors agreed, deliberating for less than six hours in September before returning with a guilty verdict.

According to Hearn, he and Limon hatched this plot: kill Robert Limon and then get married so that Hearn can become stepfather to Limon’s kids. Hearn said he and Limon wanted them to be raised by “godly parents.”

Limon maintained during her testimony that, although she was having an affair with Hearn, she knew nothing about a plot to kill her husband.

Jurors found true that Limon, 38, told Hearn how to get to her husband’s workplace and what hours he would be working the day he was found shot to death. It was also true, jurors found, that Limon used a disposable “burner” phone to communicate with Hearn to avoid detection by law enforcement.

While both Hearn and Limon are serving prison terms, it’s the Limon children — Robby and Leanne — who are the unintended victims, Brownlee said ahead of sentencing. Both children wrote letters to Brownlee begging him to grant their mother probation, instead of a prison term.

“My mom is one of the best people I know. She’s loving and loves God. She loved my dad and we do everything together,” Robby wrote. “I need my mom in my life … I would do anything to get her home … Please help make that happen.”

As moved as Brownlee appeared to be by the children, he couldn’t reduce the sentence, he said.

“Letters from the defense reiterate that the defendant is a kind and loving woman incapable of this crime, however 12 jurors sat in that box and convicted her of murder,” Brownlee said.

In an emotional plea, Brownlee urged members of both sides of the family to come together for Robby and Leanne.

“Their worlds changed when their father was murdered and now their mother will be sentenced and incarcerated for her actions,” Brownlee said. “Don’t continue to make the children victims. Both families need to set aside their differences and focus on the health and wellbeing of the children. It’s imperative you come together. Turn your anger toward each other to love and guide these two children.”

Despite that, the family appeared to split up after leaving the courtroom — Robert’s family and supporters headed down a stairwell to the back of the building, and Sabrina’s family congregated at the courthouse steps.

Julie Cordova, Sabrina Limon’s sister, has been caring for her two kids at her Camarillo home since Limon was arrested in January 2017.

“Right now we’re not making any contact,” Marrero said outside of the courthouse. “They’re not making any effort to reach out to us to let us be part of the family and be part of Leanne and Robby’s life. The last I heard, they didn’t want to talk to me.”

Harold Pierce covers education and health for The Californian. He can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter @RoldyPierce

(1) comment


From the phone recordings at the trial, there's no doubt she knew what was happening and was involved, but it seemed like the actual killer was the one who pursued her, instigated the process and then carried out the actual crime, then manipulated the Kern D.A. But Limon got screwed here by Hearn, her flunky attorney and the justice system as a whole. There needs to be more than just conviction rates driving our "justice" system.

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