A King County jury has found Martin “David” Pietz guilty of the 2006 murder of his wife, Nicole.
Members of Nicole Pietz’s family wept openly as the verdict was announced just before 2 p.m. Pietz, who sat only a few feet away, showed little emotion when he learned he had been convicted of second-degree murder.
“I just wanted justice for my daughter and we got it,” said Nicole’s mother, Gael Schneider. “These last 7 1/2 years have been torture for us.”
As Pietz was led from the courtroom, Nicole’s sister Tonia Zurcher yelled, “You’re going to burn in hell, Pietz.”
He faces a sentence of between about 10 years to just over 18 years in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.
Pietz had long been considered a suspect after Nicole disappeared from the couple’s Lynnwood home on Jan. 28, 2006, and her body was found in Burien woods about a week later. But Pietz, 36, wasn’t arrested until more than six years later, on March 21, 2012, after King County prosecutors had built a case they felt was strong enough to prosecute.
Prosecutors conceded during Pietz’s monthlong trial that there was a lack of witnesses and DNA evidence. However, during testimony and in closing arguments last Thursday, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kristin Richardson cited circumstantial evidence she said warranted a conviction.
Richardson claimed Pietz had grown tired of Nicole, was unfaithful, wanted a more creative sex life and was “cold and callous.” She said Pietz strangled his wife during an argument in their condominium.
The defense, however, poked holes in the prosecution’s case. Defense attorney David Allen said prosecutors based their case on Pietz’s character and failed to establish a motive. They conceded he had been unfaithful but said that didn’t make him a killer.
“Dave Pietz isn’t the first guy to step out on his spouse,” Allen told jurors Wednesday. “Is it a motive to kill his wife? He had bad boundaries; he’s oversexed.”
The defense noted Nicole, 32, had struggled with drug addiction and may have relapsed before her death. That relapse may have played a role in her death, they said.
Allen also told jurors that Pietz’s decision not to testify during the trial is not an admission of guilt.
Jurors began their deliberations Thursday morning. Testimony began on Sept. 12.