Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Shooting Death of Danielle Nemetz

(source:cbsnews.com)
 
Danielle Nemetz was only 19 years-old when she was shot to death by her husband, Skylar Nemetz, on October 16th, 2014. Skylar shot Danielle with her own AR-15 rifle inside an apartment they shared in Lakewood, Washington. The couple was living in Lakewood while Skylar was stationed by the Army at Fort Lewis. 

Skylar and Danielle (cbsnews.com)

Skylar has always maintained that he shot Danielle on accident while checking to see if the rifle was loaded. He told police that the gun went off as he lifted it. Danielle, who was facing a computer just five feet away, was struck by the bullet and killed instantly. 

The computer monitor Danielle was using at the time of the shooting. (cbsnews.com)

Police found Skylar's recollection of events to be questionable from the start. As a member of the U.S. Army, Skylar was well-trained in how to properly use firearms. Both Skylar and Danielle enjoyed going to shooting ranges together, and neither of them were unfamiliar with how to safely handle guns. Police also found it odd that Skylar was not the one who called 911 to report the shooting. Instead, he put all the firearms inside the apartment away and hid two empty bottles of alcohol. Police showed up to the home after a neighbor called to report hearing gunfire. 

Additionally, many of Danielle's loved ones had concerns about her relationship with Skylar. The couple was married within months of meeting each other, while they were just teenagers. Those closest to Danielle felt that Skylar was controlling, jealous, and had a temper. As details about their relationship and the events leading up to Danielle's death began to unravel, detectives found more and more information that made them suspicious of Skylar.

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A rushed romance.

Danielle and Skylar met in October 2012 while Danielle was just a junior in high school. At the time, she lived in McKinleyville, California. Skylar lived in a neighboring town and had recently graduated from a nearby high school. The pair initially connected on Facebook, and then met in person at a high school football game while Danielle was cheerleading. The two quickly got into a serious relationship.

After just a month of dating, Danielle moved in with Skylar at his mother's house. Danielle's loved ones thought the relationship was moving quickly, but Danielle was happy--so they tried to be happy for her. Danielle was always described as a bubbly, friendly young girl, but her friends noticed that Skylar seemed to be the opposite. One of Danielle's closest friends noted that whenever she brought Skylar around, he did not engage in conversation or make any effort to get to know any of the people in Danielle's life. 

Three months into their relationship, Skylar proposed to Danielle. She accepted, and then dropped out of high school very shortly thereafter. Danielle and Skylar got married the day Skylar graduated from bootcamp--just five months after they met. 

Danielle's loved ones continued to have concerns about the speed of their relationship, but they tried to remain optimistic. Danielle had a rough upbringing. Her mother passed when she was just a toddler. She and her siblings then moved in with their grandmother. When Danielle was 14, her grandmother passed away as well. She then moved in her with stepfather. Danielle's loved ones believe that Danielle was always seeking out the close family relationship that she lacked while growing up--which is perhaps why she rushed so quickly into a marriage with Skylar. 

Life as an Army wife.

Danielle and Skylar moved to Washington after Skylar was stationed at Fort Lewis. Skylar's Army job forced him to be away from home often. During the times he was in town, Skylar and Danielle would often spend time together at shooting ranges. Skylar had been familiar with guns his whole life and he had a collection of firearms at the home he shared with Danielle. Danielle herself also became interested in firearms, and Skylar gifted her with a blue AR-15 rifle for her 19th birthday.


Eventually, Danielle began to come into her own in Washington. She enrolled in a local school so she could finally finish her high school degree. She enjoyed spending her free time at home taking care of her new puppy and making makeup tutorial videos. Danielle also got a job at a granite counter company.

Anger and jealousy issues.

Danielle regularly kept in touch with her friends and loved ones back home. It was during these conversations when her loved ones began to notice even more red flags about Skylar. At one point, Danielle told James Peltier that Skylar had smashed her iPhone in an angry rage and then immediately went out to buy her a new one.

James, a former neighbor and father figure to Danielle, was very concerned after that conversation. He asked her if she was afraid of Skylar, to which she said no--and that she forgave him for the incident. Still, there were numerous other examples of Skylar's behavior towards Danielle that raised suspicions. While investigating Danielle's death, investigators found texts that Skylar sent to her that seemed both controlling and verbally abusive. The messages included name-calling ("you're an idiot") and criticisms about how Danielle spent money ("Danielle what the fuck we have amazon you don't need that prime shit").

Skylar also sent text messages to Danielle that indicated he had issues with jealousy. At one point, he sent her a text accusing her of going on a date with a male friend from high school. Danielle denied having any romantic feelings for said friend. Prosecutors eventually came to believe that jealousy may have been the catalyst that led to Danielle's death. 

The alcohol bottles. 

In late September 2014, Skylar was sent to Yakima for battlefield training. Days before he was due to return, he texted Danielle and asked her to get him a bottle of Fireball and Sailor Jerry's so he could drink them when he returned home. Both Danielle and Skylar were under 21 years-old at this point, so Danielle knew she'd have to rely on someone older to purchase the alcohol. 

Anthony Faas--a friend of Skylar's from the Army--seemed like the perfect person to help obtain the liquor. Anthony returned home from the battlefield training a few days before Skylar, so they arranged for him to buy the bottles and bring them to Danielle and Skylar's apartment, so they'd be there by time Skylar got home. 


The arrangement did not go as planned. Anthony ended up being too busy to pick up the alcohol. Danielle, who wanted to make sure her husband got what he wanted, asked two other guys to purchase the alcohol instead. One of the guys was the high school friend that Skylar had accused Danielle of dating behind his back. 

Danielle never ended up telling Skylar how he got the alcohol. According to Anthony Faas, Skylar later reached out to thank him for the purchase. At that point, Anthony reportedly told him that he was not the one who bought the bottles. Anthony said that Skylar got visibly angry after that admission. 

The shooting.

Skylar returned from Yakima on October 16th, 2014. By his account, he and Danielle were very excited to see each other. He told police that they ordered pizza to celebrate, and that he also drank some Fireball and Red Bull. Skylar maintained that he was not intoxicated, but slightly buzzed.

Shortly after Skylar returned home, Danielle FaceTimed with her best friend Michayla Yingling. Michayla would later tell investigators that Danielle seemed happy that Skylar was home. Skylar was also seen during their FaceTime call, and Michayla said that he seemed to be in a good mood as well. Michayla had no idea that Danielle would be dead just minutes after they hung up.

Danielle and Michayla on FaceTime

By Skylar's account, Danielle asked him to clean and put away her AR-15 rifle while she sat down at her computer to get some work done. Danielle was facing away from Skylar went he lifted the gun and it fired. Instead of calling police, Skylar then hid all of their firearms in a closet and dumped out of the bottles of Fireball and Sailor Jerry's before throwing them off a balcony. Skylar also seemingly did not make any effort to revive Danielle.

As previously stated, it was a neighbor who ended up calling police-not Skylar. When police arrived on the scene, they put Skylar in the patrol car. He continuously cried and called out for Danielle while in police custody.


Once at the police station, Skylar was questioned about why he did not attempt to help Danielle or call police. He said that he was absolutely certain that Danielle was dead, which is why he did not render aid. The police were skeptical of Skylar's story. After hours of questioning, Skylar was booked on murder charges and held on a $1 million bail. 

The trial.

The prosecution argued that Skylar was a jealous and controlling husband. They showed the jury the abusive text messages that Skylar sent to Danielle. They also noted that it seemed unlikely that Skylar would accidentally set off a firearm, especially since he continuously described himself as well-versed in gun safety. 

Anthony Faas was called to testify for the prosecution. While on the stand, Anthony described Skylar's anger when he learned that Danielle had asked other guys to purchase the alcohol. It was Anthony's testimony that helped drive the prosecution's case. The prosecution believed that Skylar shot Danielle in a rage after learning that Danielle had not been honest about how she obtained the bottles. While Michayla said that Skylar seemed to be in a good mood when she saw him during her FaceTime with Danielle, the prosecution stated that it was an act. They believe he waited for Danielle to hang up the phone before he acted.

Skylar's defense team continued to maintain that Danielle's death was an accident. They called upon witnesses who ended up contradicting Anthony's testimony. A mutual Army friend of both Skylar and Anthony stated that he did not see Anthony on the base at the time Anthony claimed to have the conversation about the alcohol with Skylar. Skylar himself also took the stand and denied speaking to Anthony at all that day.

The jury.

The jury deliberated for days before they reached a verdict. Members of the jury would later tell reporters that they did not see Skylar as a reliable witness--they felt his testimony was very rehearsed and over-exaggerated. However, Anthony Faas did not appear to be a reliable witness either. In addition to other witnesses contradicting his testimony, Anthony was the prosecution's only witness that claimed to see Skylar in an angry rage that day. Other witnesses-including Danielle's friend Michayla-all stated that Skylar seemed fine that day.

Due to the fact that Anthony was the only person to testify to Skylar's anger, the jury ultimately felt that the State did not prove that Skylar had intent to kill Danielle. They ended up finding Skylar guilty of first-degree manslaughter. However, certain jurors have stated that if the prosecution had an additional piece of evidence to prove intent, the verdict might have been different.

Sentencing.

The judge gave Skylar the maximum sentence: 13 and a half years in prison. During the sentencing, Skylar addressed the court room, saying "I'm sorry to everybody here. Most of all I'm sorry to Danielle. I'm sorry that she was ripped out from this world and ... I'm sorry to her friends and family and I accept any punishment that you give me."

Despite saying he would accept his punishment, Skylar is currently appealing his sentence.

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