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Trial begins in case of 4 Marines charged with brutal 2008 murder of Camp Pendleton Sergeant, wife

Marine Sgt. Jan Pietrzak, 24, and his wife, Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, 26. Family Photo

Marine Sgt. Jan Pietrzak, 24, and his wife, Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, 26.
Marine Sgt. Jan Pietrzak, 24, and his wife, Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, 26.
Family Photo

(CBS/KCBS) RIVERSIDE , Calif. - Trials have begun for three of four ex-marines accused of robbing, torturing and murdering a young Camp Pendleton sergeant and his wife in 2008.

Sgt. Jan Pietrzak , 24, and his wife Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, 26, were allegedly killed by four men from the slain Marine's squadron when the suspects robbed their French Valley residence.

According to CBS Los Angeles, Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Daniel DeLimon gave his opening statement to a jury on Monday.

"This young couple was executed inside a house they had just purchased," DeLimon said. "They had been married 68 days. They were hog-tied, bound at the hands and feet, and shot execution-style. Quiana was sexually assaulted in front of her husband."

Kevin Darnell Cox, 25, Emrys Justin John, 23, and Tyrone Miller, 25 could each face the death penalty if convicted. A fourth defendant, Kesaun Kedron Sykes, 25, will be tried in August. According to CBS Los Angeles, Cox's case is being heard by a separate jury from John and Miller.

DeLimon says Cox's shoe prints were found inside the victims' residence, and his then-girlfriend, Melissa Buck, received Quiana's wedding band, as well as other jewelry, as gifts, CBS Los Angeles reports. Cox also reportedly confessed the murder to investigators.

It remains unknown why Pietrzak and his wife were targeted, but DeLimon said the men told associates they went to the house hoping to find "money and guns".

The suspects allegedly tried to throw off authorities by making it appear as though the slayings had been motivated by a race. Law enforcement officials found racist remarks spray-painted on the walls of the home. The words "N----- Lover" were found near the master bedroom and on a mirror in the bathroom. Sgt. Pietrzak was white. Quiana Jenkins was black, as are the four suspects.

According to CBS Los Angeles, prosecutors say Miller led the brutal attack and ordered John to execute the victims. John allegedly shot each victim twice in the head, suppressing the gunfire with cushions. The suspects were tracked down after fellow Marines allegedly heard the group bragging about the murders and notified authorities.

Investigators reportedly recovered nearly all of the stolen property in the defendant's living quarters. Pietrzak's dress blue Marine uniform was found in Miller's Camp Pendleton home, along with four spent 9mm bullet cartridges and two 9mm pistols.

More on CrimesiderAugust 17, 2009 - Will Obama Meet with Mother of Murdered Marine?

  • Casey Glynn

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