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
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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.

Tony Shin

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.

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Ex-Marines Tortured, Killed Marine Sgt. and Wife

Jurors have convicted three former Marines of torturing and killing a fellow Marine and his wife for money in a 2008 execution-style slaying in Southern California. NBC's Tony Shin reports.
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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.

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