SAN BERNARDINO - Laurie Cone, accused of hiring a man to kill her husband last year, solicited at least three other people to commit the crime before she found someone to follow through with it, according to prosecutors and witnesses.

Details about the events leading up to John "Jack" Cone's death came out Tuesday during a full first day of testimony in the trial for Laurie Cone, 47, and co-defendant Gary Gallion, 30.

The two are on trial for conspiring to rob and kill Jack Cone, a local 64-year-old television repairman, on April 2, 2012, at his home and workspace in the 2100 block of Sierra Way. Cone and Gallion could each face up to a life sentence in state prison, without the possibility of parole, if they're convicted.

Officials believe Laurie Cone conspired to have her husband killed for personal financial gain.

Laurie and Jack Cone, who were married for 29 years at the time of his death, started having marital problems in 2007, said Deputy District Attorney Cary Epstein.

In February of that year, Laurie Cone allegedly talked to her daughter's boyfriend, Nathan Diaz, about robbing and killing Jack Cone.

Diaz testified that Cone brought the topic up on the way home from a trip to Las Vegas.

During his testimony inside a San Bernardino Superior Courtroom, Diaz said Laurie Cone suggested getting rid of her husband "to make our lives easier."

Laurie Cone told Diaz it would be best to surprise Jack Cone when he pulls into the driveway "and pretty much shoot him," Diaz testified.

She said "to shoot him three times - she was specific, three times - as he was getting out of the truck," Diaz said.

When the trio arrived home from La Vegas, Laurie Cone gave Diaz a handgun, he testified.

"I was in shock, I didn't know what to do. I didn't think she was serious," Diaz said.

Defendant Gary Gallion, 30, speaks to his attorney during his appearance.
Defendant Gary Gallion, 30, speaks to his attorney during his appearance. (Gabriel Luis Acosta/Staff Photographer)

He testified that he waited around at the house for a few minutes then called Laurie Cone's daughter Jackie to come and get him.

"I couldn't do it," Diaz testified.

About four years later, Laurie Cone again allegedly tried to get someone to kill her husband.

She told Ralph Santalian that she would give him a truck in exchange for the murder, Epstein said.

Wanda Edwards, Santalian's mother, testified Tuesday that her son would not have any part of that.

Edwards also testified that in March 2012 she told Jack Cone that his wife tried to get her son to kill him.

"Did he seem surprised?" Epstein asked her.

"No, he laughed about it," Edwards testified. "He said, `she's been trying for years."'

In early 2012, Laurie and Jack Cone separated and Laurie Cone moved out, Epstein said. Jack Cone changed the locks, put chains and padlocks on the gates and installed surveillance around his home.

About a week before his murder, Laurie Cone approached a third man, Charles Duke, about committing the crime, Epstein said.

"She wanted his guns and his money," Duke testified.

He also said that Laurie Cone drew him a map of her husband's house, detailing where the safe was.

When he heard Jack Cone was dead, Duke contacted a Rialto police officer and showed him the hand-drawn map of the house.

On April 1 Laurie Cone met Gallion, Epstein said. She asked him to kill her husband and steal items from his gun room.

Jack Cone was a licensed gun dealer, according to court records.

In the early morning of April 2, Laurie Cone and her daughter Jackie Cone were at San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino. During that time, Gallion made his way to Jack Cone's house, the prosecutor told the jury.

During his opening statements, Epstein played a surveillance video that showed a man sneaking up to the house then breaking in with a crowbar.

Jack Cone was pulled to the ground from his bed, his ankles were bound with electrical cords, his wrists were tied with telephone cords and he was tethered to several walls, Epstein said.

Surveillance video showed the robber going in and out of Cone's gun room. For an hour, the man beat the security door until it opened.

Once inside the gun room, the robber took several items, including TV sets and nearly two dozen weapons, then loaded them into Jack Cone's truck.

"He went in and beat Jack Cone to death prior to leaving the residence," Epstein said to the jury about Gallion.

Gallion then called his friend Shawna Bayless, who introduced him to Laurie Cone, because the front gate was locked and he couldn't get away from the property, Epstein said.

Bayless then called Laurie Cone while she was at the casino to ask her which key opened the lock on the gate.

That conversation was overheard by Jackie Cone.

Testimony will continue today Wednesday and jurors are expected to hear more about Gallion's suspected role.


Reach Lori via email, call her at 909-483-9378, or find her on Twitter at @IEcourtsNow.