The prosecutor who secured guilty verdicts on charges including murder last year against Sabrina Limon says a motion for a new trial should be denied as Limon's new attorney failed to prove she received ineffective counsel.
The motion is scheduled to be heard Wednesday, the same date as Limon's sentencing. The 38-year-old was convicted in October of conspiring with her lover, former Redlands firefighter Jonathan Hearn, in the August 2014 killing of her husband at a Tehachapi railway yard.
Deputy District Attorney Eric Smith, in a response filed this week to the motion for a new trial, argued the conduct of Limon's trial attorney, Richard Terry, was "reasonable within professional norms."
He said Terry thoroughly cross-examined Hearn, noting the questioning touched on matters including Hearn's personal writings, his awareness of Limon dating other men and Hearn's receiving a reduced sentence in return for his testimony.
At trial, the prosecution relied heavily on wiretapped phone calls and text messages exchanged between Hearn and Limon after her husband's death.
Smith said in the court filing that while the defense motion spends multiple pages referencing wiretapped calls to claim Limon had no idea Hearn killed her husband, it doesn't mention the wiretaps that revealed her efforts to cover up for Hearn and withhold information when investigators provided her with a suspect description that matched her lover.
In the filing, Smith argues Limon's new attorney, Sharon Beth Marshall, would have relied upon the same evidence as Terry; she's just claiming she would have done it better.
"Defense counsel's tactics during the trial were to show Sabrina Limon had no knowledge of Jonathan Hearn's actions, that Sabrina Limon adored her husband and would not want him dead, and that Jonathan Hearn is a liar and killer who will say anything to not be sentenced to life in prison," Smith said.
"In the motion for a new trial current defense counsel argues the identical tactics."
Marshall also argued Limon should not have testified, and that Terry failed to properly prepare her.
Smith, however, said Limon was advised of her constitutional right to remain silent and said "yes" in court when asked if she wantd to testify. As to the allegation Terry failed to prepare her, Smith noted Terry visited Limon 17 times in custody prior to her trial testimony.
Ultimately, there was "ample evidence" to find Limon guilty, Smith said, whether she testified or not.
"Evidence was replete throughout the record showing Ms. Limon's guilt prior to her taking the stand and following her testimony."
A jury found true that Limon told Hearn how to get to the Tehachapi workplace of her husband and what hours he'd be working the day he was killed. At trial, Hearn testified the two had long planned to kill her husband, Robert Limon, and described how they tried to keep law enforcement from linking them to the crime.
Hearn in November was sentenced to 25 years and four months in prison after pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter, among other charges.]
Limon faces 25 years to life in prison.