SANTA ANA, Calif. – Ryan Hawks held a memorial service after his father and stepmother vanished at sea four years ago.
He created a Web site where friends have uploaded photos of the fun-loving Arizona couple along with hundreds of notes and prayers that they rest in peace.
But the dutiful son said he can't move on with his life until a former child actor stands trial for allegedly tying Tom and Jackie Hawks to an anchor and tossing them from their yacht into the Pacific Ocean.
"My life has been put on hold pretty much until the trial," said Ryan Hawks, 32, of San Diego, who has delayed taking a full-time job so he can sit through the case expected to begin Tuesday with opening statements.
"It is the last thing I can get to do for my parents, is represent them," he said.
The bodies of his father and stepmother have never been found.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Skylar Deleon, 29, who appeared on the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" television show in the 1990s. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and murder for financial gain.
Deleon's ex-wife Jennifer Henderson was convicted in 2006 of two counts of first-degree murder and murder for financial gain and sentenced to two terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Three other men — Alonso Machain, Myron Gardner and John Fitzgerald Kennedy — have also been charged with murder and murder for financial gain but have yet to stand trial. They also pleaded not guilty.
The Hawkses had planned to sell their $440,000 yacht, named the "Well Deserved," to spend more time in Arizona with their baby grandson.
Prosecutors believe Deleon feigned an interest in buying the 55-foot boat docked in Newport Harbor, then enlisted Machain and Kennedy to overpower the couple on a test cruise and force them to sign over ownership.
Deleon and Henderson, who were married then, are suspected of cleaning the yacht with bleach after the killings and bribing a notary to backdate paperwork to transfer ownership of the boat.
Prosecutors built a case around the financial records and the testimony of Machain, who confessed his role in the killings at Henderson's trial.
"We feel this is a very strong case," said prosecutor Matt Murphy. "We've been waiting for a long time to present this to the jury."
Richard Schwartzberg, one of Deleon's attorneys, declined to discuss details of the case or disclose whether his client would testify.
"The world will find out when he takes the witness stand — if he does," Schwartzberg said.
The jury will also consider a separate murder charge filed against Deleon in the killing of a man he met in a work furlough program in 2003 while serving time for burglary. Prosecutors suspect Deleon took $50,000 from the man then slit his throat and dumped his body in Mexico. Deleon also pleaded not guilty to that charge.
The two cases will be tried jointly to prevent some unspecified witnesses from appearing in court twice, said Susan Kang Schroeder, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office.
In a third case to be tried separately, Deleon is charged with soliciting the killings of his father and cousin after growing concerned that they had information about his alleged role in the crimes. His cousin is expected to testify at the current trial.
Michael Molfetta, a defense attorney who represented Deleon's ex-wife, said prosecutors had evidence that Deleon was planning to buy an expensive house shortly after the Hawkses vanished.
"He is one twisted individual," Molfetta said. "He is incredibly manipulative. The saying goes, 'he could talk the wings off a butterfly' — except he's more prone to pluck the wings off."