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Live coverage: Trial in San Bernardino TV repairman killing gets underway
SAN BERNARDINO -- The trial for two people accused of conspiring to kill local television repairman John "Jack" Cone last year got underway this morning in a San Bernardino courtroom.
The defendants on trial -- Cone's wife, Laurie Cone, and Gary Michael Gallion -- each could face up to a life sentence in state prison, without the possibility of parole, if they're convicted of the crime, according to prosecutors.
The Apr. 2 killing of longtime resident Jack Cone inside his repair shop called D/C Radio and Television, which also doubled as his home, on North Sierra Way rattled a San Bernardino community. Cone, 64, was found dead in the bedroom and had suffered blunt force trauma, say police.
Prosecutors charged Laurie Cone and Gallion with murder, robbery and burglary in Jack Cone's death, according to court records. Laurie Cone also was charged with solicitation of murder.
The trial was expected to start Monday before Judge Michael A. Smith at San Bernardino Superior Court, but it was rescheduled to begin today when a defense attorney called in sick.
Deputy District Attorney Cary Epstein said he expects a full day of witness testimony today after lawyers on both sides deliver their opening statements to the jury.
According to San Bernardino police, Laurie Cone reported her husband's death to police when she returned home and found his body about 4:20 a.m., after an evening of gambling with her daughter, Jackie Cone, at San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino.
Police say an investigation showed that Laurie Cone conspired to have her husband killed for personal financial gain.
Jack Cone, an Illinois native, came to San Bernardino in 1968 with his parents. He left the U.S. Army after serving for three years. He went to work for his father at a coffee shop that was eventually transformed into a television repair business at the corner of Ninth Street and Tippecanoe Avenue.
The business was moved to its present location in 1972. The initials D.C. stand for Cone's father's name, Donald Cone.
A third defendant in the case, Shawna Bayless, took a plea bargain before a jury panel was selected. Bayless, who is expected to testify during the trial, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, voluntary manslaughter and residential robbery.
The trial is expected to last about two and a half weeks.