A Kern County judge Wednesday ordered Sabrina Limon to stand trial on charges including murder in the August 2014 killing of her husband in Tehachapi.
The ruling, following a preliminary hearing that lasted roughly seven hours over two days, was met with cheers and clapping from several audience members, drawing a stern rebuke from Judge John R. Brownlee.
"Knock it off," Brownlee said. "Next person that does that, I'm taking them in."
Limon's attorney, Richard Terry, had asked that all charges be dismissed against his client as the only evidence of her involvement was the testimony of her former lover, Jonathan Hearn, who has admitted gunning down the husband.
Prosecutor Eric Smith, however, argued that the evidence, including wiretapped phone calls and text messages, as well as lies Limon told authorities, indicated she aided and abetted in the killing.
Hearn testified at length to the planning the two made in killing 38-year-old Robert Limon and trying to get away with it. He said he and Sabrina Limon, 37, had fallen in love during their two-year affair, and they wanted her husband out of the way so they could share their lives together.
Smith said there was also a financial motive: Sabrina Limon received $300,000 in life insurance payouts following her husband's death.
On Wednesday morning, Hearn, a former Redlands firefighter, testified that he returned to his home in Hesperia after his work shift ended the morning of Aug. 17, 2014. He gathered some belongings and made one last phone call to Sabrina Limon before heading out to Tehachapi to kill her husband.
Hearn, 27, testified he and Sabrina Limon again went over the layout of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway complex where her husband was working that day. They talked about Hearn's need to avoid detection, and she urged him to be careful.
"She warned me to be cautious because (her husband) was not somebody 'who would go down without a fight' kind of a thing," Hearn testified.
During his testimony, Hearn, calmly and without hesitation, described how he drove to Tehachapi on his motorcycle, first removing the bike's license plate. He brought a backpack with a change of clothing and a .45-caliber handgun fitted with a homemade silencer he created using the barrel of a large Maglite flashlight and engine freeze plugs.
Hearn said he parked the motorcycle north of the facility where Sabrina Limon's husband worked in the 1500 block of Goodrick Drive. After spotting Robert Limon in a garage, Hearn walked to the east side of the facility, between some buildings, and paused in a breezeway as he thought about what he was about to do.
He said a prayer and entered the garage. According to Hearn, he and Robert Limon spoke briefly before the husband began stocking a refrigerator with water and Gatorade.
When Robert Limon turned his back, Hearn pulled the handgun from the backpack, walked up to him and shot him, he testified. He spoke more slowly as he described the killing, sighing heavily at one point before continuing.
Hearn said he then went into an office and stole some items, intentionally making a mess, as he and Sabrina Limon had planned for the killing to look like a robbery gone wrong.
Concerned that Robert Limon may not be dead, Hearn walked back to his body and fired one more shot into him before fleeing, according to testimony. On the way home, Hearn stopped and changed his clothing and placed the license plate back on his motorcycle.
He testified he called Sabrina Limon, told her he'd followed through on their plan, and, as previously arranged, the two then tried to avoid contacting each other in the following weeks so as to avoid suspicion.
But it didn't take law enforcement long to focus the investigation on the two. Kern County sheriff's detectives were told about the years-long affair, and placed wiretaps on the phones of Hearn and Sabrina Limon.
In earlier testimony at the hearing, detectives said they fed Sabrina Limon false information regarding evidence in the investigation in an effort to prompt Limon to contact Hearn. In some instances, Sabrina Limon called Hearn within minutes of getting off the phone with a detective, and investigators listened in and recorded the conversations the two had regarding how much authorities knew and if an arrest was imminent.
Asked by Smith, the prosecutor, how he felt after the killing, Hearn testified he at first felt a sense of relief. As time went by, however, he said he felt guilt and remorse over what he'd done.
Hearn testified he sought comfort in spirituality. He began attending church often and praying for God's forgiveness.
But he still hoped to avoid prosecution.
"I was seeking forgiveness for my actions, but also I was in fear of being caught," he said.
Hearn and Sabrina Limon were taken into custody in November 2014. Hearn was charged with crimes including murder, but Limon was released.
It wasn't until Hearn accepted a plea agreement in January, pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter, among other charges, that Sabrina Limon was rearrested and charged with six felonies including murder.
As part of the agreement, Hearn agreed to testify against Sabrina Limon, and to issue an apology to the victim's family. The agreement stipulates he serve 25 years and four months in prison.
Once he accepted the plea agreement, Hearn directed investigators to where they could find evidence related to the crime, including the shoes he wore at the time of the killing, and arsenic trioxide he hid in a paint can in his garage.
Hearn testified he and Sabrina Limon had previously planned to poison Robert Limon by lacing banana pudding with arsenic, but they aborted the plan over fears of getting caught.
The next hearing for Sabrina Limon is set for Feb. 21.