An April 7 trial date was confirmed today for an ex-Marine accused of killing a young Marine sergeant and his wife during a home invasion robbery at the couple's French Valley residence
Kesaun Kedron Sykes, 26, could face the death penalty if convicted in the October 2008 slayings of 24-year-old Janek Pietrzak and his 26-year-old wife, Quiana Faye Jenkins-Pietrzak.
Sykes is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, along with 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.
During a status hearing before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Christian Thierbach, the prosecution and defense agreed they would be prepared to begin trial proceedings in the first week of April.
Sykes remains held without bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta.
His three codefendants were all convicted last June of the murders. Kevin Darnell Cox and Tyrone Lloyd Miller, both 26, were sentenced to death, while 24-year-old Emrys Justin John was sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms.
The defendants, along with Sykes, were assigned to the same helicopter maintenance squadron at Camp Pendleton. Miller was under the supervision of Janek Pietrzak.
According to Deputy District Attorney Dan DeLimon, the four Marines wanted to get inside the Pietrzaks' two-story house at 31319 Bermuda Ave. to steal their belongings -- but also to indulge in a power trip.
"This was about taking pleasure in the sexual humiliation of a woman and tormenting her husband by making him watch," DeLimon said.
Miller testified that he was displeased with Pietrzak because the young sergeant told him a day or two before the killings that there was no chance he would be promoted to corporal.
The defendants later told sheriff's investigators that they were mainly interested in the "stuff" they might be able steal from the victims, who had received numerous gifts at their wedding just two months earlier.
Cox, John and Miller, armed with shotguns, forced their way into the victims' home in the predawn hours of Oct. 15, 2008, after Cox convinced Pietrzak to unlock the door so the two men could speak. Once the door opened, the men rushed Pietrzak and beat him into submission, according to testimony.
The victims were bound and gagged and thrown face-down on a sofa. After spending 90 minutes ransacking the house and hauling stolen goods to a vehicle parked outside, Miller and Sykes stripped Quiana and used a vibrator to violate her sexually, according to the prosecution. John shot the couple execution- style with a 9mm handgun.
Miller testified that he was just along for the ride and did not actively take part in the killings, for which he blamed Sykes. However, the prosecution contended during last year's trial that Miller had planned the burglary.
—City News Service