Jury reaches verdict in Skylar Nemetz murder trial

TACOMA, Wash. — A jury has reached a verdict in the case of a former Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier accused of fatally shooting his wife.

Skylar Nemetz was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter.

Trial facts:

  • Skylar Nemetz charged with first-degree murder
  • Wife shot in back of head in Lakewood apartment
  • Nemetz says it was an accident
  • Deliberations started Wednesday

Skylar Nemetz, 21, was a specialist in the Army when his wife was shot in the back of the head while she sat at a computer in the couple's Lakewood apartment on Oct. 22, 2014. The 19-year-old died instantly.

He’s charged with first-degree murder.

Nemetz claims the AR-15 that killed her fired accidentally and that he didn't know it was loaded.

Prosecutors allege that Nemetz shot his wife because he was upset that another man bought her liquor while he was away on a training operation.

“He intentionally killed his wife,” Deputy Pierce County prosecuting attorney Jared Ausserer told jurors on Tuesday.

After weeks of testimony Nemetz's defense attorney, Michael Steward, admitted his client was likely guilty of manslaughter.

“I’ll tell you what it’s not,” Stewart told jurors in closing arguments. “It’s not premeditated first-degree murder.”

But prosecutors say Nemetz has a lifetime of experience with firearms and has been trained by the military in firearms safety. Ausserer held the rifle that killed Danielle Nemetz as he demonstrated to the jury how Nemetz took it from a bed and moved behind the desk where his wife was sitting.

“Mr. Nemetz picked up this gun to clean it, according to him, and he walked over three feet to orient it at the back of her head. Why in the world would he do that?” Ausserer asked.

Jurors were sent home Tuesday night after closing arguments that lasted all day.