Inland Empire News
Marine murder trial: Penalty phase begins
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Opening statements were heard Monday in the penalty phase of the murder trial of three former Camp Pendleton Marines.
The men, 25-year-old Kevin Cox, 25-year-old Tyrone Miller and 23-year-old Emrys John, have been found guilty of murdering fellow Marine Sgt. Jan Pietrzak and his wife, Quiana. Now it will be decided if they will face the death penalty.
On Wednesday, two separate juries found Cox, Miller and John guilty of murdering the couple. The couple was found tied up, beaten and shot execution-style in their Winchester home in Riverside County in October 2008. The two had been married only three months.
The prosecution says robbery was the motive. Following the murders, the three set fire to the home to cover up the crime. The jury also convicted John of being the trigger man and found Miller guilty of sexually assaulting Quiana.
"I need for you to keep an open mind. I need for you not to be so swayed by the emotions," Miller's attorney, Mitchell Haddad, said in court.
Emotional testimony followed opening statements with Pietrazk's mother on the stand. She broke down describing the last time she saw her son -- the day he married his wife. She also sobbed as she remembered being told the suspects were Marines, saying, "It felt like someone stabbed me in the heart."
Victim impact statements are expected to last until Tuesday, but before the two juries can make a decision, they'll also be hearing from the three former Marines' family and friends.
A fourth defendant in the murders, Kesaun Sykes, will go on trial in October.
riverside county, shooting, homicide investigation, murder, inland empire news, leticia juarez
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