(SEATTLE) — Without a single hard piece of evidence linking David Pietz, the Washington state man accused of killing his wife seven years ago, prosecutors are now zeroing in on his character, trying to tear it apart.
Martin David Pietz, 34, is accused of killing his wife, 32-year-old Nicole Pietz, who vanished from her home in 2006 and was found, strangled in a wooded area. Detectives with the King County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit arrested Pietz in March 2012 and charged him with second-degree murder.
At his trial this month, detectives have testified about Pietz’ behavior when he got the news that his wife’s body was found, questioning whether he was only acting the part of a grieving husband.
“He had the appearance of crying,” Sgt. Jesse Anderson told the court. “But I didn’t see the tears coming out.”
Earlier in the trial, a long line of women testified that he allegedly cheated on his wife with them. The statements from Renee Stewart, Samantha Duffy, Sabrina Lucia Strieck and Julie Hansen-Freeman contradict Pietz’ own statements to police about not having much of a sex drive.
His mother-in-law Gael Schneider, who suspected him early on, hounded him for the truth and fought six years for his arrest. Towards the beginning of the trial she told the court of her grief as she watched Pietz walk free after just her daughter’s death.
“I just said, ‘He murdered my daughter,'” Schneider said. “I’ve cried my brains out every day for seven years. …If he can’t take being confronted by a 72-year-old woman, he’s not much of a man.”
When David Pietz was finally arrested last year, detectives said he wanted out of his marriage and they built a case on circumstantial evidence and DNA, which consists of a single fingerprint found inside his wife’s car, found abandoned in a lot in north Seattle.
“It’s a tough case for the prosecution, because they lack hard evidence,” criminal defense lawyer Mark Geragos, who is not involved in the case, told ABC News. “They are now left with just assassinating his character to the jury, making him an unlikable liar that cheats and hoping that works. But it doesn’t make him a murderer.”
Prosecutors have also tried to show that the mileage on Nicole’s car doesn’t add up, and may be because it was used to hide her body.
Pietz has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyers say the case is built on pure speculation. After a week off, the prosecution will continue Monday.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN
Brian Stelter, CNN
Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Holly Yan, CNN
Jeff Simon, CNN