Skylar Nemetz, 21, was convicted last Thursday of first-degree manslaughter with a firearm enhancement for the 2014 shooting death of his wife, Danielle, according to the Daily Mail. The Pierce County Superior Court jury was unable to reach a verdict on the counts of first degree or second degree murder. Danielle Nemetz died from a gunshot wound to the back of the head inflicted by an AR-15 while she sat in front of a computer. At the time of the shooting, Nemetz was a soldier at the Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington. He had been away for routine training in Yakima for 19 days. When he returned, a friend came over to visit and Nemetz thanked him for bringing over some cinnamon whiskey while he was away. The friend said that he did not give it to Danielle, another man did. According to the friend, Skylar Nemetz was shaking, clenching, and unclenching his fists and was “furious and visually upset.”
Two hours later, neighbors heard a gunshot and called 911. Skylar Nemetz never called 911. Instead, he put the rifle in the closet, pushed the magazine under the bed, dumped the whiskey in the toilet, and threw the bottles under some brush. Nemetz was seen by neighbors going in and out of his apartment several times following the shooting. When asked why he did these things, Nemetz replied, “I don’t know why I did that.”
BREAKING: Former JBLM soldier Skylar Nemetz convicted of first-degree manslaughter in shooting death of wife pic.twitter.com/ZnSEJ3xVUK— #Q13FOX (@Q13FOX) March 3, 2016
Prosecutors argued that Skylar Nemetz thought his wife was having an affair. They also pursued the multiple inconsistencies in Nemetz’ version of events. According to a neighbor, Nemetz said Danielle had accidentally killed herself while cleaning the rifle. The gunshot had gone through the back of Danielle’s head and the computer screen where she was sitting. He told a police officer that the gun discharged while he was cleaning it and bumped it on his thigh. Finally, according to prosecutor Jared Ausserer, “Mr. Nemetz said he picked up the AR-15, turned the selector switch from safe to fire and possibly shouldered the rifle and pulled the trigger. He stated he did all this while the rifle was pointed at the back of his wife’s head. He provided no reason why he did this and said it was a stupid thing to do.”
Skylar Nemetz took the stand in his trial, claiming he loved his wife and didn’t mean to kill her. According to The News Tribune, his response to many of prosecutor Gregory Greer’s questions regarding the different accounts he had given were “I don’t recall” and “I’m not sure why I said that.” Nemetz testified that the allegations of jealousy by his friend were not true. Skylar Nemetz contended that he thought the weapon was unloaded.
Nemetz said on the stand that when the smoke had cleared, he realized he had killed his wife. “I went up to my wife on the left side and I saw her face and my wife wasn’t there anymore. I saw the gunshot wound. I knew she was dead.”
Nemetz told the jury that he loved his wife and didn’t mean to hurt her. He recounted that they had met through a mutual friend and he had proposed to her months later on a California mountaintop.
The jury felt that the intent to murder was not there and found Nemetz guilty on the lesser charge. Ralph Flick, a juror, said, “We just couldn’t get there.”
Friends and family have posted on Facebook how disappointed they are with the verdict, but say they will accept it. Defense attorney Michael Stuart felt like his client should have received a second-degree manslaughter conviction.
The first-degree manslaughter conviction carries a sentencing of 11.5 to 13.5 years. Skylar Nemetz will be sentenced on March 25.
[Image via Izzet Ugutman via Shutterstock]