Husband goes on trial in 2006 death of Lynnwood woman
It was a bunch of “little things” that led to Martin “David” Pietz’s arrest in March 2012, more than six years after the body of his wife, Nicole, was found in some woods in Burien, said a King County prosecutor on Thursday, the first day of Pietz’s second-degree
Seattle Times staff reporter
Martin “David” Pietz did a lot of things to cover his tracks when he strangled his wife in their Lynnwood condo, disposed of her nude body in woods in Burien and ditched her car in a parking lot in Seattle’s University District, King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Carla Carlstrom told jurors Thursday during opening statements.
But it was the “little things” that tripped him up and led to his arrest more than six years later for the death of his 32-year-old wife, Nicole Pietz, Carlstrom said.
In a case that is short on physical evidence and instead relies heavily on circumstantial evidence, perhaps the biggest little thing was the discovery of a diamond tennis bracelet among David Pietz’s possessions, years after he told King County sheriff’s detectives that the bracelet had disappeared along with his wife.
“There is no smoking gun,” Carlstrom said of the second-degree murder case, which she said will include testimony about David Pietz’s infidelities and his dissatisfaction with his marriage. Carlstrom also alleged Pietz slipped the drug Ecstasy into his wife’s nonalcoholic beverages to “loosen her up” sexually, and made repeated inquiries into receiving a $38,000 life-insurance payout after the discovery of Nicole’s body on Feb. 6, 2006.
Defense attorney Cooper Offenbecher, who is representing Pietz alongside attorney David Allen, used his opening statement to point out weaknesses in the state’s case, including DNA evidence and a single fingerprint found in Nicole Pietz’s abandoned Volkswagen Jetta and the lack of forensic evidence to indicate a struggle had occurred inside the couple’s condo.
The state’s assertion that the couple fought the night Nicole died is “pure speculation,” he said.
Offenbecher, however, made no mention of the diamond tennis bracelet.
“What happened to Nicole is a mystery,” he told the jury.
According to Carlstrom, David Pietz cheated on his wife during their engagement and nearly-four year marriage. Nicole Pietz, who had battled an addiction to pain pills but had been sober for eight years, suffered from a lack of self-esteem and so “put up with a lot” from her husband, including his constant criticism of her weight and hair, Carlstrom said.
David Pietz, who worked at fitness clubs and later at a bank in Kirkland, was also dissatisfied with his financial status and argued with his wife about money, she said.
Nicole was already in bed, a night retainer in her mouth and her wedding ring soaking in cleaning solution, when her husband arrived home from work around midnight Jan. 28, 2006, Carlstrom said.
“At some point, his temper boiled over and he strangled her to death,” she said. “He got rid of her body; he got rid of her car” and showed up to work later that day as expected.
He then “pretended to be surprised” when she failed to arrive at a friend’s dinner party that night and again when he learned she hadn’t shown up for an earlier Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in Renton, where she was to receive a coin commemorating her eight years of sobriety, Carlstrom said.
Pietz, who will turn 36 on Monday, was arrested March 21, 2012, outside the Kirkland bank where he worked, more than six years after his wife’s death.
A few days later, a co-worker called police to say Pietz had asked her to appraise a diamond tennis bracelet — and the bracelet was found among his possessions at the bank.
“He’d had it all along,” Carlstrom said.
Offenbecher, noting that both Nicole’s and David Pietz’s DNA was found inside the Jetta, said no one can say who drove the vehicle last. He also said one expert will testify that a partial fingerprint in the vehicle didn’t belong to either husband or wife.
He told jurors that a prescription pill bottle — which was newly filled and should have had 50 pills inside — was found empty in the couple’s bathroom.
Nicole Pietz “had expressed uncertainty if she deserved to accept this coin” for her eight years of sobriety because she had been taking prescription medication for severe back pain in the weeks before her death, Offenbecher said.
While his client may be guilty of “infidelity, immaturity and inappropriate behavior,” Offenbecher said, “the evidence is not going to show David’s failings as a young husband caused him to commit the crime of murder in the second degree.”
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org