By GIO BENITEZ
The Tampa, Fla., couple accused of kidnapping their sons and fleeing to Cuba were caught on surveillance videos in their holding cell hugging and kissing and apparently discussing their defense, according to new evidence released by prosecutors.
Joshua and Sharyn Hakken were charged with kidnapping, interference with child custody, and neglect in April after they allegedly kidnapped their 2 and 4-year-old sons from the boys' maternal grandparents and set sail to Cuba on their boat.
The surveillance videos were released earlier this week by prosecutors, who plan to present it as evidence when the two go on trial later this year for felony kidnapping charges. The videos were recorded April 10 shortly after the couple was captured and held in a Hillsborough County jail. In between the constant hugs and kisses they exchanged, Joshua Hakken can be heard advising his wife to keep silent in jail.
Abducted Florida Boys 'Well Cared for on Their Journey'
"Be careful what you say to your cellmates," he said.
"About this?" Sharyn, 34, Hakken asked.
"Yeah, no one can know about this," he replied.
Amid the information released were photos from inside the Hakken's sailboat showing two car seats, a gun and ammo.
The Hakkens have pleaded not guilty and judging by surveillance tapes, they were already planning in April how to handle their release.
"When everything goes down I'll come find you," Joshua Hakken, 45, told his wife.
"If I get out before you, I promise I'll wait for you," his wife replied.
Among the documents released was a lengthy letter Sharyn Hakken sent to a 26-year-old woman, whom she called her "soul mate."
"I hope you really do know by now, I am 100% fully committed to you and our relationship!" Hakken wrote.
Prosecutors say the Hakkens had become paranoid in the United States and asked 11 countries for asylum. The Hakkens accused the federal government of "hacking our personal computers, microwave weapons attacks" and "drugging our food," according to documents.
The children, Cole and Chase, had been living with their maternal grandparents in Tampa until April 3, when authorities allege that Joshua Hakken barged into the home, tied up his mother-in-law and fled with his sons in her car.
The Hakkens lost custody of their sons last year after Slidell, La., police found them in a hotel room with their boys surrounded by weapons and drugs.
The Hakkens arrived in the Hemingway Marina in Havana April 7 aboard their sailboat, the Salty Paw. The next day, Cuban officials said they became aware the Hakkens were wanted in an abduction case and contacted U.S. officials in Havana.
U.S. officials captured the Hakkens and they returned to the Florida on a plane escorted by police April 10. Sharyn Hakken referenced the plane ride home to her husband while in their holding cell, according to the surveillance tapes.
"I said too much on the plane," she said, sobbing in her husband's arms as she apologized.
"It's OK," Joshua Hakken said while rubbing her back.