Death penalty trial to begin for 3 Marines suspected of killing Marine and his wife

Opening statements begin Monday, April 8 in the death penalty trial of three of the four former Marines charged with the murders of another Marine and his wife, Riverside County District Attorney officials said Thursday.

Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach is seeking the death penalty for all four men.

Opening statements in the double-murder trial of Kevin Cox, 25, Emrys John, 23 and Tyrone Miller, 25 will begin at 9 a.m. Monday before Judge Christian Thierbach, in Dept. 43, Hall of Justice, 4100 Main Street, in Riverside, spokesman John Hall said in a news release Thursday.

In October, 2008, Marine Sgt. Jan Pietrzak, 24 and his wife, Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, 26, were found brutally murdered in their home in the unincorporated area of Winchester/French Valley near Murrieta. Both victims were found bound and shot in the head.

Cox, John and Miller have each been charged with two counts of murder with special circumstances including murder during the commission of a burglary, robbery and rape by instrument and double murder.

A fourth defendant, Kesaun Sykes,25, faces the same charges and the death penalty. Sykes will be tried separately. His trial readiness conference is scheduled for Aug. 2.

In February, 2011, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported that Sykes stood up at a Friday hearing and began urinating, using his hands to fling drops of urine.

At the time, according to an Associated Press story, the judge granted a request by the lawyer for Sykes to suspend criminal proceedings until psychiatrists could evaluate Sykes, who goes by the nickname Psycho

Cox, John and Miller all worked with Sgt. Pietrzak at one time while stationed at Camp Pendleton.

“It is believed that all four defendants went to the home to rob the victims, forced their way inside, and then physically assaulted Pietrzak, sexually assaulted Jenkins-Pietrzak and murdered both victims,” Hall said in the news release.