RIVERSIDE – A man who joined three cohorts in killing a Marine sergeant and his wife at their French Valley home was convicted Tuesday of two counts of first-degree murder.
A Riverside jury deliberated less than six hours before finding 27-year- old Kesaun Kedron Sykes guilty of the 2008 slayings of 26-year-old Quiana Faye Jenkins-Pietrzak and her husband, 24-year-old Janek Pietrzak.
Along with the murder counts, jurors found true special circumstance allegations of killing during the course of a robbery, killing during a burglary and taking multiple lives in the same crime, as well as a sentence- enhancing allegation of committing a sexual assault with a foreign instrument.
Beginning Monday, the same jury will decide whether to recommend a death sentence or life in prison without the possibility of parole for the dishonorably discharged Marine, who is the final defendant to be tried.
Last year, three members of Janek Pietrzak’s helicopter maintenance squadron at Camp Pendleton — Kevin Darnell Cox and Tyrone Lloyd Miller, both 27, along with 25-year-old Emrys Justin John — were convicted of the killings. Cox and Miller were sentenced to death, while John received two consecutive life prison terms.
In his closing statement on Monday, Deputy District Attorney Dan DeLimon recalled testimony in the two-week trial that showed Sykes conspired to carry out the deadly home invasion, having joined Cox, John and Miller in a similar break-in at an Oceanside residence less than a month earlier, during which a man and woman were injured.
The prosecutor described Sykes as the ”tip of the spear,” acting as the point man and leading the way into the Pietrzaks’ home at 1:15 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2008.
”Everything he did demonstrated a complete lack of conscious and a perverse sense of reality,” DeLimon said.
The defendants were convinced they would find guns, drawers full of cash and various high-value commodities inside the two-story house at 31319 Bermuda Ave., according to DeLimon.
They ransacked the residence for 90 minutes and took advantage of their helpless victims, both of whom were bound, gagged and blindfolded, the prosecutor said.
Quiana Pietrzak was separated from her husband and placed on a table by Sykes, who stripped her and joined Miller and Cox in violating her sexually.
”He crossed all boundaries in the way he chose to exploit Quiana,” DeLimon told jurors. ”He violated her in a way that not only affected her dignity, but mocked her sexuality — and humiliated Sergeant Pietrzak.”
Sykes’ attorney, Doug Myers, insisted his client never wanted or intended the Pietrzaks to die.
”There’s no doubt that Mr. John and Mr. Miller decided to kill these two people,” Myers said in his closing statement. ”What was it Mr. Miller told Emrys John? ‘Do ‘em’.’ And Mr. John carried out the order. Kesaun didn’t do these things.”
The attorney emphasized that Sykes was not present when the four fatal shots were fired into the victims, having gone out to an SUV into which the defendants had loaded stolen goods.
Miller testified last year that he was displeased with Pietrzak because the young sergeant had told him only a day or two earlier that he would not be promoted to corporal.
The defendants confessed that they were mainly interested in the ”stuff” they might be able steal from the victims, who had received numerous gifts at their wedding that August.
The men, armed with shotguns, forced their way into the victims’ home after Cox rang the doorbell and persuaded Pietrzak to unlock the front door so the two could speak. Pietrzak turned off his home security alarm system and opened the door, whereupon the defendants rushed and beat him into submission.
After killing the newlyweds, the defendants attempted to set a fire and throw off law enforcement by painting racial epithets on the walls and on Quiana. She was black; Janek Pietrzak was born in Poland.