A King County judge this morning sentenced Martin “David” Pietz to just over 18 years in prison for the 2006 murder of his wife, Nicole.
Jurors had deliberated for about a day and a half before finding Pietz guilty of second-degree murder on Oct. 14.
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.
Pietz faced a standard-range sentence of roughly 10 to 18 years. Prosecutors recommended to a top-of-the-range sentence, arguing that Pietz violated his wife’s trust by attacking her in their home and also caused Nicole Pietz’s family undue anguish by misleading them about her whereabouts for 16 months.
In court this morning, Nicole Pietz’s friends and family asked Superior Court Judge Michael Hayden to give Pietz the stiffest sentence possible. Many people attending the sentencing wore heart-shaped pins bearing the message “Justice for Nici.”
Gael Schneider, the slain woman’s mother, said Pietz “was playing God” when he killed her daughter.
“I find it very said it’s only second-degree murder because a life is a life and she was deprived of a life,” Schneider said. “David, I forgive you. I’m not going to allow you to rule my life any more.”
Pietz’s parents, Martin and Sandy Pietz, testified on his behalf. He was described as a hard-worker and a good person.
“During this difficult time David has expressed concern for me and other members of his family,” said Sandy Pietz. “I love my son with all my heart.”
David Pietz declined to speak during the sentencing.
Prosecutors conceded during Pietz’s monthlong trial that there was a lack of witnesses and DNA evidence. However, during testimony and in closing arguments, 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.
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 claimed.