RIVERSIDE – The mother of a woman sexually assaulted and killed by members of her husband’s Marine unit testified today that she last spoke with her daughter the night of her death, and everything appeared to be fine before they ended the conversation.
”I could hear her cleaning up the kitchen. I heard her set the (burglar) alarm before she went upstairs,” Glenda Jenkins said.
According to the witness, who appeared on the verge of tears at one point, she and her daughter discussed plans for Thanksgiving and said their goodbyes around 9:45 p.m. on Oct. 14, 2008.
”She texted me later because the puppy had learned to walk down the stairs on its own,” Jenkins said. ”I texted her back later, but there was no response. I figured she had gone to bed.”
Her testimony came as trial began for Kesaun Kedron Sykes, the last of four defendants to go on trial for the murders of 26-year-old Quiana Faye Jenkins-Pietrzak and her husband, 24-year-old Janek Pietrzak.
According to Riverside County sheriff’s investigators, the victims were shot execution-style around 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2008, as they lay bound, gagged and blindfolded in the living room of their French Valley home.
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 slayings.
Cox and Miller were sentenced to death, while John received two consecutive life prison terms.
Their 27-year-old admitted cohort could face the death penalty if convicted of 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.
Sykes’ attorney, Doug Myers, told jurors in his opening statement that his client ”neither intended or wanted either victim to be killed.”
”They were shot at the last minute,” Myers said. ”Mr. Sykes was powerless to do anything about it.”
According to Myers, the defendant lived in the same apartment complex as Cox, and the two Marines had became friends through a mutual acquaintance, Melissa Buck, Cox’s girlfriend.
Myers acknowledged that his client had been out on a previous ”job” with the defendants — an Oceanside home invasion robbery — and had assumed that when he went with them to the Pietrzak property at 31319 Bermuda Ave., it would be more of the same.
”He did not know that killing was on anyone’s mind,” the attorney said. ”Tyrone Miller and Emrys John had some kind of personal agenda that my client had no part in.”
Deputy District Attorney Dan DeLimon countered that Sykes was an active and willing participant in the murders, which he characterized as an ”execution.”
”Quiana was shot twice — once in the head and once in the back of the neck,” DeLimon said, noting that she was killed after her husband and had to know what was about to occur.
According to the prosecutor, the defendants wanted to get inside the Pietrzaks’ two-story house to steal their belongings — but also to engage ”in the sexual humiliation” of the victims.
Miller testified last year that he was displeased with Pietrzak because the young sergeant had told him only a day or two earlier that there was no way he would 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.
Glenda Jenkins testified the valuables in the house and her daughter’s overall safety prompted her to obtain the security system for the newlyweds.
Cox, John, Miller and Sykes, 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. The men rushed Pietrzak, beating him into submission, according to testimony.
The couple 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 sexually assaulted her, DeLimon alleged.
John shot the couple execution-style with a 9mm handgun.
Sykes is being held without bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta.