A U.S. soldier accused of shooting his wife to death as she sat working on a computer inside their home in Washington state pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to a charge of first-degree murder.
Prosecutors said Army Specialist Skylar Nemetz, 20, stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, killed his spouse in a domestic dispute after returning home from military training and confronting her about alcohol in their home that had been purchased by another man.
Tarrah Nemetz, 19, was shot on Oct. 16 with an assault-style rifle in the back of her head inside the couple’s apartment in Lakewood, a city that lies between Seattle and Olympia, prosecutors said.
“When officers entered Mr. Nemetz’s apartment they found his wife, Tarrah Nemetz, sitting in a chair, facing a computer, with her head slumped forward and a pool of blood below her chair,” the charging documents said.
The bullet traveled through her skull and pierced the computer screen, investigators said. A neighbor who heard the gunshot called police.
Skylar Nemetz told investigators the shooting was an accident and that he was putting the rifle away when it discharged, the charging documents said.
Prosecutors said Nemetz has offered at least four accounts of what happened, reported The News Tribune, eventually telling them he “turned the selector switch from safe to fire and possibly shouldered the rifle and pulled the trigger.”
“He stated that he did all of this while the rifle was pointed at the back of his wife’s head,” said deputy prosecutor Jared Ausserer. “He provided no reason why he did this and said that it was a stupid thing to do.”
After the shooting, instead of calling 911, investigators said Nemetz threw the gun’s magazine under a bed, hid the AR-15 in a closet, and dumped out a bottle of cinnamon whiskey.
Nemetz entered the not-guilty plea when he was arraigned in Pierce County Superior Court.
Nemetz has been ordered held on $1 million bail. Details of his Army service record were not made public. Joint Base Lewis-McChord did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the charges.
Watch this video report posted online by KING-TV:
(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Steve Gorman and Mohammad Zargham)