'Yacht' Killer Mom: Deleon's Home of Drugs, Orgies

Skylar Deleon's mother shares tragic stories, prosecution makes ripping quip.

ByABC News
October 29, 2008, 10:19 AM

Oct. 29, 2008 — -- In a moment of courtroom drama, the mother of Skylar Deleon, the man convicted last week of murdering an Arizona couple by chaining them to an anchor and throwing them off their yacht, recounted how her son almost drowned in a pool as a child.

Deleon's mother, Lynette O'Daniel, echoed previous testimony that Deleon had been molested by his late father, John Julius Jacobson Sr., as a child. She testified that the boy had grown up in a house of drugs and orgies. O'Daniel left Jacobson when Skylar was 2 years old.

But the day's most dramatic moment came when O'Daniel recounted an incident in which the child almost drowned in the family's pool.

As she remembered the horror of a mother pulling her child from the water, prosecuting attorney Matt Murphy asked, "What is that like, ma'am, to watch someone you love drown?" The courtroom went quiet as the prosecutor quickly made a pointed reference to Deleon's recent murders: "He was not tied to an anchor, correct?"

O'Daniel is the latest witness called by defense attorney Gary Pohlson in hopes of using Deleon's childhood mistreatment to gain sympathy from the jury and avoid the death penalty for his client.

Deleon, 29, was found guilty last Monday of murdering Thomas and Jackie Hawks, with several accomplices, after he posed as a potential buyer for their yacht. He was also convicted in the 2003 murder of John Jarvi. Deleon reportedly baited Jarvi into traveling to Mexico with him to complete an easy-money business deal but instead slit the 45-year-old's throat, robbed him of $50,000 and left the body near a Mexican highway.

Pohlson admitted Deleon's guilt at the start of the trial and has since been arguing for leniency in the penalty phase.

Both Deleon's stepmother, Lisa Wildin, and his half sister, Stephanie Jacobson, testified to Jacobson's abusive nature.

Wildin said that Deleon was regularly beaten by his father if "he got a pimple" or if he "didn't have his hair combed right."

Stephanie Jacobson, 21, said that her father was "an awful person" and even though he was allegedly abusive to everyone in the family, "Skylar got the wrath of it all," including multiple occasions in which Jacobson shoved toothpicks under Deleon's fingernails.