ARSENIC AND LACE

Trial For Mom Accused of Killing Her Husband—and a Neighborhood Dog

An ex-lover’s shocking testimony—about dead dogs, swingers, and poisoned pudding—helped land a California mom on trial for murder.

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

The California woman accused of slaying her husband with the help of her firefighting lover will stand trial for murder, a judge has ruled.

Prosecutors say Sabrina Limon, 37, orchestrated a hit on her spouse in August 2014—just days before the couple’s 14th wedding anniversary, and months after she and her lover allegedly abandoned a scheme to spike his pudding with arsenic.

Limon’s former lover, 27-year-old Jonathan Hearn, testified about the deadly love triangle during a two-day preliminary hearing in Kern County court.

According to local reports, the audience laughed and cheered Wednesday as Superior Court Judge John R. Brownlee issued his decision. “Knock it off. Next person that does that, I’m taking them in,” Brownlee warned the courtroom.

Authorities say Robert Limon, a 38-year-old railway worker, was gunned down during his Sunday evening shift at an industrial complex.

Kern County detectives cuffed Sabrina Limon and Hearn, a Redlands paramedic, months later, but Limon was released after prosecutors cited insufficient evidence. The mother-of-two walked free for two years while Hearn was in jail.

The widow wasn’t charged until January, when Hearn took a plea deal in exchange for the dismissal of his murder charge. As part of the agreement, Hearn pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and will receive a 25-year prison sentence. He agreed to testify against Limon and apologize to Robert’s family.

On Thursday, Hearn’s attorney, Clayton Campbell, said his client “wanted to get this off his chest and clear his conscience a long time ago.”

“He wants to take responsibility,” Campbell told The Daily Beast. “He’s providing truthful testimony about Sabrina. That should not be mistaken for him just blaming her. He’s not making excuses for himself.”

“He’s taking responsibility and she needs to do it, too,” Campbell added.

In court, Limon’s attorney, Richard Terry, said the only evidence of Limon’s involvement came from Hearn, who admitted to fatally shooting Robert and to purchasing the arsenic trioxide for the aborted poisoning plot. Terry asked the judge to dismiss all charges against his client, according to the Bakersfield Californian.

On Friday, Terry said the case against Limon is “circumstantial” but declined to comment on specifics.

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“Basically their case is all about him and a bunch of circumstantial evidence,” Terry told The Daily Beast. “But beyond that, her case is him. That’s all they’ve got. They’ve got nothing else.

“It’s going to come down to an issue of [Hearn’s] credibility for the jury,” the attorney added.

But deputy district attorney Eric Smith contends that a cache of evidence, including wiretapped phone calls, point to foul play by Limon herself. He also alluded to a $300,000 life insurance payout as a motive in Robert’s homicide.

When reached on Thursday, Smith called Robert’s death “tragic.”

“The person who was killed was a great father and a hard-working person. All it is is a tragedy,” Smith told The Daily Beast of the convoluted case. “They killed him, and it didn’t need to happen. No murder needs to happen.”

The second day of testimony was as strange as the first.

Hearn told the court that he donned a “Halloween mask of an older-appearing visage,” and that he spoke briefly with Robert before he shot him in the head.

“The mask made you look like an elderly person,” Terry remarked while cross-examining Hearn, the Victorville Daily Press reported.

Hearn also testified that he prayed in a breezeway of the complex before killing Robert in a maintenance shop. He gunned his victim down with a .45-caliber Glock equipped with a homemade silencer, he testified.

Limon allegedly warned her boyfriend to be careful as he headed to Robert’s employer, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway complex, and she described the layout of the Tehachapi property, the Californian reported.

“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.

According to the Californian, Hearn talked with Robert before the hubby began stocking a refrigerator with water and Gatorade. Then Hearn grabbed his gun from a backpack and walked up to Robert, whose back was turned, and blasted him.

To make the scene look like a botched robbery, Hearn went into an office, created a mess and snatched a laptop, he testified.

Fearing his victim might still be alive, Hearn shot Robert once more before he fled. He said he called Limon to declare the deed was done, and the duo agreed to have no contact in the coming weeks to avoid suspicion, the Californian reported.

Hearn said he prayed to the heavens to help him get away with the crime. In one recorded phonecall with Limon, which was played for the courtroom, Hearn said, “God please help us … you have a purpose for us.”

The fireman also read a Valentine’s Day letter from Limon that said they were made for each other. Hearn testified that their lustful affair transformed him from conservative Christian to cold-blooded killer, KGET reported.

As The Daily Beast previously reported, the former lovers initially wanted to kill Robert by poisoning his favorite dessert—banana pudding with vanilla wafers—with arsenic. Hearn practiced a fatal dosage on a noisy neighborhood dog.

According to Campbell, Hearn was living at the time in a garage apartment behind his grandparents’ main house in Hesperia. The attorney said it’s unclear whether the neighbors know, even today, how their beloved pooch passed.

“He feels terrible about the dog,” Campbell told The Daily Beast. “He wanted to confirm that what he had (the arsenic) was going to do the job when they poisoned Robert. He did the calculations on the weight of the dog and made a proportionate dosage.”

Limon allegedly told Hearn that Robert would rather die than get a divorce. It wasn’t an option for her, either, because she’d be stigmatized, lose friends and face a custody battle over their children, Hearn testified.

Hearn said that he met Limon while she worked at a Costco in 2012. Their friendship turned sexual, and they soon rendezvoused “once a week or every other week” in 2013, usually at the Helendale home Limon and her husband shared, the Daily Press reported.

A year later, Limon and her paramour were discussing a future together.

She told Hearn of her unhappy marriage and Robert’s “sexual deviance” and “lack of genuineness,” Hearn testified.

The Limons were swingers and belonged to a group that exchanged sexual partners, Hearn claimed. He said that Sabrina Limon, however, told him she was no longer interested in the lifestyle, the Daily Press reported.

Limon believed that killing Robert was the only way out, Hearn said.

She is due back in court Feb. 21.

Robert’s relatives could not be reached for comment.

But on Wednesday, one sister took to Facebook to describe her pain while hearing about his death in court.

“It’s so heartbreaking to sit in court & listen to the man who murdered my brother talk about how he & Sabrina would move forward with their lives once my brother was out of the way,” she wrote, adding that the Limon children are the ones “hurt most of all.”

“I ask that you pray for these two little ones. They didn’t deserve to have their lives torn apart for such actions. My brother was a compassionate man & father who truly didn’t deserve to die for such selfishness,” the sister said.