Laurie Cone

Laurie Cone began living with John Cone in 1985 when she was just a teenager. John was almost twenty years older than Laurie.  They remained together, having a daughter, Jackie, and finally marrying in 2001.  But, by 2012 the often unstable marriage seemed to be nearing it's end.  Laurie had moved out of the home and it was said that John had changed the locks.

For his part John made a living as a television repairman and a licensed gun dealer.  His home doubled as his business in San Bernardino California.  Around 4 am on Monday, April 2, 2012 Laurie would be dropping their daughter off at the home after they had spent the evening at a casino.  Jackie Cone would say she immediately thought things looked strangely.  When she had left the home earlier in the evening she said her father was not feeling well and asked her to lock the front gate when she left with her mother.  When they returned Jackie would claim she noticed her father's truck was not there and the gate was not not only unlocked but open.  Jackie would tell investigators that Laurie went into the home first and came back out telling her to call 9-1-1.  Jackie would later testify that she believed that her mother mentioned the theft of guns to her before mentioning that John's body was inside.

By Wednesday afternoon authorities had Laurie Cone in custody, although I cannot be certain her initial charge was for the murder of her husband.  It seems that as soon as the news reported the death of John Cone a man by the name of Charles Duke came forward.  He would claim that just the week before he had been approached by Laurie about killing her husband.  He provided the police with what he claimed was a map of the Cone property provided to him by Laurie Cone.

On Thursday afternoon John Cone's truck was found abandoned.  On Friday the police arrested two more people, Gary Gallion and Shawna Bayless.  Again police were careful to not announce official charges in the murder of John. They would announce that they were suspects in the murder but they were both arrested for violating conditions of their probation although it was not widely stated what those violations were.  

I dug a little deeper into Gallion and Bayless to see what I could discover about any past crimes.  For Gallion's part he had been convicted in 2009 for obstruction and resisting arrest.  The following year he had been convicted on an arson charge.  Bayless had a past history of convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a controlled substance and forgery.  

Bayless would strike a deal with prosecutors that would require her to testify truthfully against both Gary Gallion and Laurie Cone.  Gallion and Cone would be tried together in March of 2013.  Both were facing charges of murder, robbery and residential burglary.  In addition Laurie Cone was facing two extra charges for soliciting the murder of her husband.  One of those charge came from the allegations by Charles Duke.  The other came from a man named Nathan Diaz. Nathan was the current, or former boyfriend of Laurie's daughter Jackie.  He would testify that in February of 2007 Laurie had approached him about killing Gary but he had obviously not followed through with her request, but he had also not reported it.

The biggest evidence against both Gallion and Cone came from Shawna Bayless. She would claim that she had introduced Gallion and Cone to each other at her home on the evening of April 1, 2012.  She would testify that Laurie Cone was complaining about John Cone saying that since their separation he would not give her any of her clothes or any money.  Gallion, who happened to be at Bayless' home also asked Cone if she wanted him to help her get somethings by breaking in.  Bayless would testify that Gallion and Cone continued their conversation but for her parts she only caught bits and pieces of it as she was in and out of the room.  She stated Laurie told them that John had a safe in the home with several thousands of dollars inside and offered to split that money with the two of them.  She would also testify that she never heard Laurie say she wanted John dead and in fact would claim that Laurie had said specifically not to kill him.

Bayless would testify that after the murder was committed that Gary Gallion showed up at her home with what would later be determined to be John Cone's truck.  Inside the bed of the truck would be several guns, ammo and laptop computers.  She admitted to helping him empty the truck and hide the weapons.  

As far as other evidence against the defendants, it was in short supply.  There were a few things, differently against them both.  There was a surveillance video taken at the time of the murder from just outside the home it seems.  The video showed a man, who resembled Gary Gallion going into the home and going in and out of the room in which the guns were located. It observed the person beating on the security door leading to this room for nearly an hour until it opened. Although the video did not show it, John Cone was found in his room bound, gagged and beaten.  It is unclear just how much the surveillance video showed and while the person in the video appeared to resemble Gallion he could not be positively identified.  For his part Gallion would claim that he was at a hotel stealing televisions at the time of the murder.  I could find nothing about anything to collaborate his story and I am sure if there was something it would have been made known.  

To be fair I found nothing that discussed any kind of forensics found either in the home or in the abandoned truck.  I would hope that I simply missed it because it seems that all the evidence they had against Gary Gallion was the surveillance video and the word of Shawna Bayless.  There was talk that when Gallion was leaving the Cone home he was unable to get out of the front gate and had called Bayless, who supposedly called Laurie Cone to locate keys. Whether that information was gathered through phone records or testimony I am unsure.

Then there was the testimony against Laurie.  I already discussed Charles Duke and Nathan Diaz.  But, another supposedly there was yet another man that Laurie attempted to solicit to kill her husband.  The interesting part in this however, is that it does not seem that the man testified, but his mother had. The mans name was Ralph Santalian and according to his mother, Wanda Edwards, Laurie Cone approached him in March of 2012 to kill her husband. She supposedly offered him a truck for payment.  Wanda testified that she contacted John Cone about this encounter but said he laughed saying "she's been trying for years."  I tried to do a bit of a search for Wanda's son and I could find nothing.  There was no indication that Ralph testified in court, only his mother and I wonder not just about some of the validity of her testimony but admissibility of some of her testimony.

Jackie, John and Laurie's daughter would testify for the prosecution in her mother's trial.  She would claim that while out at the casino with her mother that night her mother's phone rang while she was sitting next to her.  She would claim that she could hear Shawna Bayless' voice through the phone discussing two key rings and heard her mother respond with "the green one."  Jackie would claim this key ring would be the one in which her father kept the keys to his truck.  However, according to Bayless' testimony she was calling Laurie to find the key to the front gate.  In fairness this could have all been on the same key ring but I found nothing to clarify.  Jackie would testify that she believed her mother was stealing from her father after the couple had separated for gambling money, including selling his guns.  Once again I have to question this testimony. The way it was implied through my research was that this was a belief held by Jackie but nothing more.  

Both of the defendants testified in their own behalf.  Aside from finding information where they each claimed to have never met each other until after their arrest and at their first court hearing and of course their denial of involvement I found nothing to indicate their testimony was remarkable. There was one article that indicated that Laurie attempted to place blame for her husband's murder on her daughter but I found little more than Laurie's attorney's questioning what Jackie may have gained from the estate.  I did not see anything that put a lot of pressure on Jackie or outright accused her.  In reality it is smart to allow a jury to know who benefits from a person's death.

In the end both Laurie Cone and Gary Gallion were convicted on all counts against the.  They were both sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. For her part, after determining that her testimony was considered to be truthful, Shawna Bayless had her charge of conspiracy dropped.  She was sentenced to thirteen years and eight months for her guilty pleas to voluntary manslaughter and residential robbery.  All three are still in California prisons.  In 2015 Gary Gallion and Laurie Cone had a joint appeal and their convictions were affirmed.

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