On January 2, 2009, I posted on the case of the Jan and Quiana Pietrzak double murders. You can find the previous posts here and here. Four and a half years ago on October 15, 2008, a group of four Marines entered the Pietrzak home and tortured and murdered the young couple who were only married for 68 days. Lance Cpl. Emrys John, age 18, of Maryland, Lance Cpl. Kesuan Sykes, age 21, of California, Pvt. Kevin Darnell Cox, 20, of Tennessee, and Lance Cpl. Tyrone Miller, age 20, of North Carolina were charged with the murders. Two of the four Marines charged in the execution-style murders worked for Pietrzak. Three of the suspects claim that the shooter was 18-year-old John. Miller and Cox had reportedly confessed to the murders, although all four suspects had accused the others of raping Jenkins-Pietrzak. Shortly before the murder, John posted “Chillin waitin 4 da killin” on his MySpace page. On November 20, 2012 all four pleaded not guilty to murdering the Pietrzaks. District Attorney Rod Pacheco on February 2, 2009, had decided to pursue the death penalty against the suspects. The case went to trial on April 2013.
On June 5, 2013 Cox and John faced a jury of their peers and were convicted of two counts of first-degree murder. Miller was convicted of rape and murder.
On June 20, 2013, a jury handed down a death sentence to Tyrone Miller and Emrys John.
Kevin Cox, 25, who gave a confession to the police, received a separate trial. He received life without parole.
The fourth defendant, Kesaun Sykes, will go on trial in August, 2013.
The following are updates on the case and the convictions gained by the prosecuting attorneys against the four marines who murdered the newlywed couple.
Death Recommended for 2 Marines in Torture Murders of Newlyweds
21 hours ago by Kennedy Ryan
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KTLA) — Jurors have recommended death Thursday for two of three former Marines convicted in the murders of a fellow Marine and his wife in 2008.
Tyrone Miller, 25, and Emrys John, 22, received death sentences. Kevin Cox, 25, was given life without parole.
The newlyweds were found bound and gagged in their Riverside County home.
Both were shot in the head execution-style.
Evidence showed Jenkins-Pietrzak was also raped before the couple’s townhouse was set of fire in an apparent effort to destroy evidence, prosecutors said.
A fourth former Marine, Kesaun Sykes, 25, also faced murder charges.
His trial was set to begin in August.
Pietrzak, an Iraq war veteran, was stationed at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego.
His wife was a counselor with a Riverside County infant care program.
They had been married for 68 days.
Ex-Marines Sentenced in Murders of Marine Sgt. and Wife
By R. Stickney and Monica Garske
| Friday, Jun 21, 2013 | Updated 1:22 PM PDT
A jury handed down a death sentence for two ex-Marines and life in prison without parole for another in the slaying of a sergeant and his wife during a 2008 home invasion in French Valley. Tony Shin reports from Riverside for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Thursday June 20, 2013.
Marines Charged in Murder of Marine, Wife
Three former Marines found guilty by jurors of torturing and killing a fellow Marine and his wife in a 2008 execution-style slaying in Southern California were sentenced Thursday.
Former Lance Cpl. Emrys John, 23, and former Lance Cpl. Tyron Miller, 25, were each sentenced to the death penalty. Former private Kevin Cox, 25, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Their sentences were read at the Hall of Justice in Riverside, Calif.
The sentences are linked to the murders of newlyweds Marine Sgt. Jan Pietrzak and his wife Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak. The couple was found gagged, tied and shot in the head in their Riverside County home in October 2008.
Sgt. Pietrzak, a helicopter airframe mechanic at MCAS Miramar near San Diego, was found bloody and beaten. His wife’s body was discovered naked. Officials say she had been sexually assaulted.
On June 5, two separate juries convicted Cox, John and Miller of murder. John was convicted of pulling the trigger. Miller was found guilty of murder and sexually assaulting Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak.
A fourth suspect, former Lance Cpl. Kesaun Sykes of Fallbrook, had his case severed and is awaiting trial. Sykes was known as “Psycho” by fellow Marines. He’s set to be tried sometime later this summer.
Earlier this month, prosecutors said robbery was the motive for the crime. Jewelry, including the couple’s wedding rings, and Pietrzak’s dress uniform were found at the suspects’ homes, authorities said.
Racial slurs were spray-painted in the house, and fires had been set in an apparent attempt to destroy evidence.
All three men worked with Sgt. Pietrzak at one time while stationed at Camp Pendleton.
“He was not the actual killer, he was not in my opinion a major participant obviously the jury disagreed with that assessment,” Cox’s attorney Ryan Markson said on June 5.
At that time, Markson hoped jurors would consider Cox’s rank at the time of the murders when deliberating his punishment.
“Because it was three armed Marines, two of whom outranked him and telling him we need to knock on these people’s door,” he said earlier this month.
Pietrzak, 24, who was born in Poland and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., joined the Marines in 2003 and served in Iraq from July 2005 to February 2006.
Relatives of the victims said Quiana, 26, was from San Bernardino and a 2005 graduate of San Diego State University.
The couple met in San Diego through a mutual friend who also attended SDSU. Jenkins-Pietrzak was studying to become a doctor. Pietrzak served in Iraq and returned to San Diego in 2006.
Attorneys for all three defendants have already asked for a new trial
- City News Service, “Opening statements begin in trial of three marines accused in slaying of French Valley couple“, 4 April 2013.
- City News Service, “Statements of Marines accused in slayings to be played in court“, 18 April 2013.
- Inland News Today, “Verdicts read in Murrieta murders“, 6 June 2013
- ABC Inland Empire News, “Jury chooses death for 2 ex-Marines“, 20 June 2013