Local accused burglar waiting to testify at California murder trial

Accused serial burglar Justin Weissinger of Old Lyme is being held at a Riverside, Calif., jail as he waits to testify in at a high profile murder trial involving three of his fellow former Marines.

Weissinger, 25, is considered a material witness in the case of the three ex-Marines accused of killing Marine Sgt. Jan Pietrzak and his wife, Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, in their Winchester, Calif., home on Oct. 15, 2008.

California authorities picked up Weissinger at New London Superior Court on April 15 and took him to the Robert Presley Detention Center in downtown Riverside, Calif. He was expected to be called by the prosecution today, but his testimony may have been delayed due to juror illness, according to John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

California authorities are expected to return Weissinger within weeks to Connecticut, where he is being held in lieu of $525,000 on multiple burglary and larceny charges. The state alleges Weissinger and his younger brother, Karl Weissinger, stole jewelry, antiques and guns in a series of residential burglaries in the Lyme area.

New London prosecutor Stephen M. Carney said that, at the request of California authorities last week, his office provided a letter indicating that state prosecutors would not use Weissinger’s California testimony, or any evidence derived from it, against him in the Connecticut cases.

Former Marines Kevin Cox, John Emrys and Tyrone Miller are on trial for murder with special circumstances and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Weissinger was a Marine helicopter mechanic stationed at Californian's Camp Pendleton before he was dismissed from the service in 2009. Though he was incarcerated on a burglary charge when the Pietzraks were murdered, Weissinger testified at a preliminary hearing in the case that he had carried out burglaries and home invasions with the accused Marines in the past and that they confided in him the details of the murders.

He said the men told him they confronted the sergeant at gunpoint, tied up him and his wife, ransacked the home and sexually assaulted Jenkins-Pietrzak. Weissinger said the men shot the couple three times in the head as they kneeled over a couch, then they set the house on fire.

A fourth Marine defendant in the case, Kesaun Sykes, will be tried at a later date.

k.florin@theday.com

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