Defense counsel for Sabrina Limon wrapped up cross-examination of confessed killer Jonathan Hearn on Monday after trying to establish Hearn controlled Limon and told her what to say to investigators after he killed her husband in 2014.
Attorney Richard Terry pressed Hearn repeatedly regarding what the attorney alleges was his manipulation of Limon. Hearn, however, remained poised, never changing the tone of his voice or his assertion that both he and Limon, his former lover, plotted the murder of her husband.
Whenever Terry asked Hearn about "your plan," Hearn immediately responded, "our plan." While acknowledging he was the person who traveled to a Tehachapi railway yard and gunned down Robert Limon, Hearn said Sabrina Limon was involved in the planning of her husband's death every step of the way.
And he denied forcing her to say or do anything either before or after the killing.
"You told her what to tell (investigators), did you not, sir?" Terry asked.
"No, sir, I offered suggestions," Hearn said.
The trial of Sabrina Limon, charged with crimes including murder and attempted murder, entered its third week following testimony from numerous detectives and friends of the Limons, as well as tens of hours of wiretapped conversations between Hearn and Sabrina Limon that were played for the jury.
Terry is trying to convince jurors that Hearn planned the killing without assistance from his client. He has said the only evidence against Sabrina Limon is the word of Hearn, who agreed to testify against his client in exchange for a prison term of 25 years and four months.
Prosecutor Eric Smith has argued Hearn and Sabrina Limon hatched a plot to kill her husband after carrying on a years-long affair. They decided to kill Robert Limon so they could be together and eventually move in with each other, he has said.
Hearn, as has been his habit throughout his testimony, rarely responded Monday with a simple "yes" or "no." Instead, he often went on at length and in great detail as to what he was thinking or doing at a given time.
The longwinded answers appeared to exasperate Terry. He sighed heavily, puffing out his cheeks and sometimes looking up at the ceiling.
Terry asked him to be succinct.
"Mr. Hearn, I know you want to go back to your script," he said at one point. "It's a 'yes' or 'no' answer."
Later during his testimony, Hearn was asked whether he wrote a letter displayed for the jury before or after he killed Robert Limon. Hearn argued with Terry's characterization of the letter, and twice gave responses not answering the question.
Finally, Terry raised his voice in asking the question a third time. Hearn said he wrote the letter, specifically a sympathy card, after Robert Limon's killing in order to fool a jury into thinking they weren't involved in his death.
"All part of your master plan..." Terry began, but Hearn quickly interjected, "Our master plan."
Hearn told the jury Sabrina Limon eventually persuaded him her husband needed to die. He said he had reservations, but overcame his reluctance and carried out the killing.
"Something overcame those better judgments," he said. "Someone."
While unable to hone in on one particular moment where Sabrina Limon overcame his resistance, Hearn said it was a combination of the feelings she expressed for him and cards she sent to him throughout their relationship expressing how she loved and needed him.
Hearn testified every time he tried to back away from the relationship, she would say something that would get him involved more deeply than before. He said it eventually got to the point where he was willing to do anything for her.
"I would say it was a very systematic, slippery slope with her," he said.
Terry questioned Hearn about his lack of emotion as he described shooting Robert Limon. The attorney characterized the shooting as a "cold, calculated killing."
Hearn agreed with that assessment.
"I think it's pretty obvious I'm an emotionally guarded person, and I certainly don't sensationalize things," he said.
During the time he worked in emergency services, Hearn said he saw a number of horrific things, from decapitations to microwaved infants. While he was hesitant to describe himself as jaded, he said those prior experiences enabled him to speak in a detached manner about Robert Limon's killing.
Despite the fact he's testifying against her, Hearn said he still has feelings for Sabrina Limon. It's no longer a romantic love, he testified, but he still loves her.
Asked whether he felt a sense of betrayal in accepting the plea agreement and testifying, Hearn said he long ago relinquished those emotions.