Jonathan Hearn, the ex-firefighter who admitted to conspiring with Sabrina Limon in the death of her husband, was sentenced Thursday for gunning the other man down at his workplace in Tehachapi.
Hearn, the key witness in the prosecution's trial against Sabrina Limon, his former lover, breathed deeply and sniffed as he stood, speaking eloquently and at length, before receiving 25 years and four months in prison.
He said anything short of death is merciful considering his actions. With repeated references to Christianity and the Scriptures, Hearn said he sinned and is guilty of choices that have inflicted "awful wounds" to many lives.
Hearn shot Robert Limon twice on Aug. 17, 2014, at a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway office.
"I have evoked God's name and have acted exactly opposite to his dictates," he said Thursday.
He apologized to the Limon family, including Robert Limon's two children, saying he is responsible for "destroying their childhood." He apologized to his own family for acting against the Christian teachings instilled in him.
He apologized to friends, former co-workers at the Redlands Fire Department, sheriff's investigators, court staff and journalists for exposing them to "my evil."
Hearn even offered an apology to the world at large for his wrongdoing.
"My sins are all ultimately an affront and offense to God," he said.
In offering an apology to Sabrina Limon, Hearn said he should have respected her and Robert Limon's marriage and never gotten involved.
"I offered her flattery when I should have upheld moral boundary," he said.
Sabrina Limon faces life in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder in her husband's death. Her sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 16.
Before Hearn spoke, Chris Wilson, a sister of Robert Limon, said the last three years have been a "roller coaster ride" of emotions. But she said she's come to a place of forgiveness.
Afterward, the Limon and Hearn families, each of which had numerous members in attendance, hugged and cried in the hallway.
Hearn pleaded no contest in January to voluntary manslaughter, among other charges, and a charge of first-degree murder was dismissed.
He followed through with a stipulation requiring him to testify at Sabrina Limon's trial, spending multiple days on the stand describing how they plotted Robert Limon's death then tried to hide their tracks.
According to prosecutors, Sabrina Limon conspired with Hearn, a former Redlands firefighter, in the killing of Robert Limon so they could be together and eventually marry. Hearn admitted as much.
The Limons were swingers who engaged in sex with other couples, but Robert Limon had told his wife to stop seeing Hearn. Nevertheless, they continued their relationship.
Then they began plotting how to get rid of Robert Limon, prosecutors said.
After a three-week trial, a jury on Oct. 5 convicted Sabrina Limon of the murder charge, as well as conspiracy, solicitation to commit murder and being an accessory to a crime.
The jury found true allegations that Sabrina Limon, who lived in the Hesperia area, told Hearn how to get to her husband's Tehachapi workplace and what hours he was working the day of the killing.
It also found true that she used a "burner" phone — a pre-paid, disposable device — to communicate with Hearn in an effort to avoid detection by law enforcement. The jury listened to hours of wiretapped phone calls between the two during the trial.
The jury acquitted her of charges of attempted murder and mingling harmful substances with food or drink. Those charges stem from allegations she and Hearn at first planned to kill Robert Limon by mixing arsenic into banana pudding and giving it to him.
Hearn testified he ordered arsenic trioxide online, whipped up a batch of pudding and placed the poison inside. Then he gave it to Sabrina Limon, who in turn gave it to her husband to take to work.
He said they aborted the plan over fear of getting caught. Sabrina Limon called her husband at work and told him to throw out the pudding because "the bananas had gone bad," he testified.
Months later, they decided he would confront Robert Limon in person and kill him, Hearn testified.
During his statement Thursday, Hearn talked of his "prayers and shady hopes of avoiding accountability" after following through with Robert Limon's murder. He said this day would have come far sooner if he had immediately admitted to what he'd done.
Instead, he and Sabrina Limon weren't arrested until November 2014, and Sabrina Limon was released shortly afterward due to insufficient evidence. It wasn't until Hearn agreed to testify against her — and directed authorities to evidence he had hidden — that she was rearrested early this year.
Hearn said only after he confessed and repented was he shown God's grace.
As he closed his remarks, Hearn thanked the investigators who tracked him down, noting that he never would have received grace if he had not been caught.
In speaking of God's grace and forgiveness, Hearn said, "although unworthy, I am what I am."
He then sat, bowed his head and appeared to weep.