Family of slain victim celebrates at suspect's arraignment



SEATTLE - The husband of slain woman Nicole Pietz pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges Wednesday as the victim’s friends and family smiled in the courtroom.

Some of Pietz’s friends and relatives said they always knew her husband, David Pietz, was responsible for her 2006 death and considered the arraignment to be a celebration of sorts.

Pietz’s mother, Gael Schneider, was in the packed courtroom with other family and friends wearing handmade "justice for Nici" hearts.

“We’re just thrilled to know so many people want justice for Nici,” Schneider said.

Wednesday is Schneider's birthday and she said she considered David Pietz’s arraignment to be the perfect present, but said she was disappointed that he didn’t look at the smiling group in the courtroom.

 “He’s got to learn to stand up for what he did,” said Schneider.

 “He didn’t look at us.  He didn’t look at us at all.  He’s a coward.  If you see this tonight, David, you are where you are supposed to be.  Thank God. Finally,” said Pietz’s friend, Shelley Sexton.

 Pietz’s sister, Tonia, was unable to talk about her emotions when she saw her brother-in-law in court, but she did talk about moving forward with the case.

 “Hopefully this process will help with everything and I’m just excited,” she said.

 Schneider, who came from Arizona for the arraignment, said she will attend every day of the trial, even if she has to rent an apartment in the area.

Detectives believe David Pietz beat and strangled his wife in their Lynnwood condo late on Friday, Jan. 27, 2006 or early Saturday, Jan. 28, then dumped her naked body in a wooded area of Burien on Saturday and reported her missing.

Police said DNA in the car, along with cellphone records and information about the time of her death, convinced them David Pietz was lying about her disappearance.

Pietz's DNA was found in "very small quantities while the defendant's DNA was in much greater quantities," court papers said.  "There was no unidentified DNA in the car."

"This is sort of like an episode of 'CSI' that took six years to develop," said Steve Strachan, chief deputy with the King County Sheriff's Office.

Strachan said police had suspected David Pietz early on in the case, but it took advances in technology to nail down the evidence needed for an arrest.

David Pietz was arrested on March 21.

“We’re so glad they’ve made an arrest and taken this step forward,” Schneider said.

Though Schneider is absolutely convinced of David Pietz's guilt, his attorney, David Allen, insists his client is innocent and will aggressively fight the charges.