RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A verdict will be read Wednesday in the trial of one of four Marines accused of killing a young sergeant and his wife in French Valley.
The verdict in the trial of Kevin Darnell Cox, 25, who is accused in the Oct. 15, 2008, slayings of 24-year-old Janek Pietrzak and his 26-year-old wife, Quiana Faye Jenkins-Pietrzak, had been scheduled to be read Tuesday afternoon, but a judge opted to delay the verdict until Wednesday.
Jurors reached a verdict Monday after less than two days of deliberations.
A separate jury began reviewing evidence today in the trial of Cox's co-defendants, 25-year-old Tyrone Miller and 23-year-old Emrys Justin John.
All three of the Camp Pendleton-based Marines, along with 25-year-old Kesaun Kedron Sykes, could face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder and special circumstance allegations of killing during the course of a robbery and taking multiple lives in the same crime. Sykes is slated to be tried in August.
Closing arguments in Cox's trial wrapped up last week. Arguments in the trial of John and Miller concluded today.
Deputy District Attorney Daniel DeLimon called the accused killers "Marines by day and criminals by night." According to DeLimon, the four Marines wanted to get inside the Pietrzaks' two-story house at 31319 Bermuda Ave. in French Valley because of greed -- and much more.
"This was about having the power to see the fear in somebody's eyes. It's about taking pleasure in the sexual humiliation of a woman and tormenting her husband by making him watch," the prosecutor said.
DeLimon quoted one of the defendants describing the 90-minute ransacking of the victims' property and abuse of the couple as "party time."
According to DeLimon, Cox attempted to minimize his participation in the slayings. But the statements he made to friends afterward and the testimony of Miller revealed that Cox was an active perpetrator, according to the prosecutor.
He alleged that Cox helped pummel Pietrzak and was delegated with the responsibility of binding the couple to immobilize and silence them. Cox also planted false evidence in an attempt to throw off authorities, directing his associates where to paint epithets such as the "n" word to make it appear as though the crime was racially motivated, according to DeLimon.
Quiana was black, and her husband, a native of Poland, was white.
Cox's attorney, Ryan Markson, argued that his client was a mere follower and went into the crime not realizing what he was getting into.
The attorney said the prosecution was stretching in making Cox, a private, appear sophisticated enough to think up the bogus racial component of the crime.
"This was not about what Kevin Cox wanted; this was about Tyrone Miller wanting that extra stripe and being told by Sgt. Pietrzak that he wasn't going to get it," Markson said, referring to a conversation between Miller and Pietrzak the day before the killings.
Miller testified that he was displeased with Pietrzak because the sergeant had told the lance corporal that his chances of being promoted to corporal were nil.
Cox admitted to investigators that he rang the doorbell twice shortly after 1 a.m., and Pietrzak came downstairs in a T-shirt and boxer shorts, deactivated his house alarm and opened the front door. The defendants, armed with shotguns, beat the young sergeant into submission, DeLimon alleged.
According to the prosecutor, Miller and Sykes stripped Quiana and used a vibrator they found in the couple's bathroom to violate her sexually. John shot the victims execution-style with a 9mm handgun, DeLimon alleged.
All of the men served in a helicopter maintenance squadron at Camp Pendleton.