TAMPA — Joshua and Sharyn Hakken, the Tampa parents whose anti-government paranoia drove them to flee to Cuba with their two young children, will be tried on kidnapping charges in January.
Hillsborough Circuit Court Judge Chet Tharpe set a Jan. 27 trial date for the Hakkens at a hearing Thursday. The couple face charges including kidnapping, false imprisonment and interference with child custody.
Authorities say Joshua Hakken abducted his sons, Cole and Chase, then 4 and 2, from Sharyn Hakken's mother in April. The family then boarded a sailboat in Madeira Beach and traveled more than 300 miles by sea to Cuba, where they were apprehended by U.S. authorities and flown back to Florida.
Tuesday's court hearing was the first time the Hakkens have been in court together since news reports two weeks ago that Sharyn Hakken had fallen in love and begun a relationship with another woman in jail.
The couple did not speak to each other during the brief hearing. Joshua Hakken stared at Sharyn as he shuffled past her in handcuffs and leg restraints, but she looked at the floor. He wore a hangdog look and had begun to grow a beard.
The Hakkens are accused of kidnapping their children because a court in Louisiana stripped their parental rights. The court decision stemmed from an incident last year in Slidell, La., where the family was traveling.
Joshua Hakken was arrested on drug charges at a hotel — telling police that he had beaten his wife to remove spirits from her body — and Sharyn Hakken was involuntarily committed for mental-health treatment.
Evidence released by prosecutors shows that both parents suffered from mental illness, and that Joshua Hakken believed he was being persecuted by federal authorities because he had uncovered a government plot to poison the American population using exhaust from airplanes.
Peter Jamison can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3337. Follow him on Twitter @petejamison.