Kesaun Kedron Sykes, a 27-year-old ex-marine, has been sentenced to death for the killing of Iraq veteran Jan Pietrzak and his wife Qiana in 2008.
Sykes and three accomplices broke into Pietrzak’s Riverside, Calif., home with the intention of robbing it. The men first forced Pietrzak to watch as they raped his wife before shooting them both in the head and killing them. According to the Daily Mail, Sykes reportedly had attempted to set fire to the couple’s home while they were still alive.
(Kesaun Kedron Sykes)
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Two of Sykes’ accomplices, 23-year-old Emrys Johns and 25-year-old Tyrone Miller, were already given the death penalty last year for their role in the killings. 25-year-old ex-marine Kevin Cox was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murders.
Deputy District Attorney Daniel DeLimon told the Fresno Bee that he believes Sykes deserved to be sentenced to death for the crimes. “He earned his place on death row,” DeLimon said. “If people are still alive, and you're trying to burn the house down on top of them, obviously, you are in, you are in all the way."
Sykes’ lawyer Doug Myers says that while he understands the pain that the couple’s families have endured, he feels as though the death penalty is unwarranted in the case of his client. Myers claims that Sykes was outside of the home when the killings occurred., and therefore should not be put to death.
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(Tyrone Miller, Kevin Cox, Emrys John)
“A death sentence for Kesaun, who was not the actual killer, who did not direct the killings, and who was exposed to such awful abuse and neglect throughout most of his life, was not warranted," Myers said.
Jan and Qiana Pietrzak had been married for only two months at the time of their deaths.