Ex-Marines Tortured, Killed Marine Sgt., Wife: Jurors

The Camp Pendleton-based Marines face the death penalty

Three former Marines tortured and killed a fellow Marine and his wife for money in a 2008 execution-style slaying in Southern California, jurors found Wednesday.

Newlyweds Marine Sgt. Jan Pietrzak and his wife Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak were 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 Wednesday, two separate juries convicted three defendants of murder. Former private Kevin Cox, 25, was first to learn his fate, followed by the verdict read by a second jury convicting former Lance Cpl. Emrys John, 23, and former Lance Cpl. Tyrone Miller, 25.

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.

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.

Markson hopes jurors will 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.

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.

Family members of the victims hugged outside the Riverside County courthouse moments after the verdicts were read. They declined to make statements until after the sentencing phase begins Monday.

The couple met in San Diego through a mutual friend who also attended SDSU. She was studying to become a doctor.

Pietrzak served in Iraq and returned to San Diego in 2006. 

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