Seven years after her murder, trial begins for the accused killer of Nicole Pietz
David Pietz stood accused of murdering his wife Nicci as friends of her family sat just a few feet away. On day one of this trial, they came to the King County Courthouse for one thing.
“Today we got to look in his eyes,” said family friend Shelley Sexton. “That was something we didn’t get when he was arrested.”
“I wanted him to see me. I wanted him to look at me,” said Gary Driscoll, who stood as close as he could get to the defendant as he was being led out of court. “He wouldn’t look me in the eyes because I know what he did to Nicci.”
Prosecutors say Pietz strangled his wife of three years during an argument in their Lynnwood condo in 2006. They claim he was fed up because Nicci refused to party with him, that she wasn’t wild enough, and he wanted out of the relationship.
“When Nicole married the defendant she thought she married the man of her dreams, but on January 28, 2006, that dream turned into a nightmare,” said prosecutor Carla Carlstrom during Thursday’s opening statements to the jury.
Prosecutors say a mountain of “little things” the defendant overlooked led to his demise, including a cell phone call from the victim’s phone to make it look like she was still alive the morning after the murder. Cell records show it came from the area around the defendant’s workplace. They say the victim’s stomach contents prove she was dead long before the timeline given by Pietz. They also say she was wearing a dental retainer when her body was found, something she only wore at night. Pietz claims he went to bed with his wife and when he woke up in the morning she was gone, ostensible to a meeting.
“The defendant had it all figured out,” said Carlstrom. “He had the big things figured out and he almost got away with it.”
Pietz’s attorneys say all of the evidence against him is circumstantial. They contend Nicole simply disappeared on her way to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where she was to receive recognition for eight years of sobriety. They argue an empty painkiller bottle was found in the home and that she may have gotten mixed up with drugs when her naked body was found on in some bushes in Burien.
“Nicole Pietz was missing. And her husband never saw her again,” said defense attorney Cooper Offenbecker. “What happened to Nicole is a mystery.”
Police say the husband was the prime suspect from day one and that they had to methodically piece the case against him together before arresting him at work in 2012. Shelley Sexton says it has been worth the wait.
“The only way is to let them go through their process and for us to stay out of it and hope justice is made,” she said, tears streaking her cheeks outside the courtroom. “The whole bottom line is we just wish Nicci was here.”