Accused killer says he ‘just lost it’
September 14, 2007
YERINGTON – A Dayton man on trial for the 2006 murder of his estranged wife on the day the couple were to sign divorce papers testified Friday that he never planned to kill her.
“It all happened so fast, it was so intense,” said Christopher Deyerle, 26. “I started shooting the gun by the truck, just up in the air, and I turned around and I followed Heather and I shot her … I seen Heather fall and just ran.”
Deyerle was the second of four possible defense witnesses to take the stand in his first-degree murder trial in the Third Judicial District Court here. The jury is expected to begin deliberations on Monday afternoon following the final defense witnesses.
Tearful at times during questioning from his attorney, Deyerle said that on May 4, 2006, he’d met up with his wife Heather at her parents’ Dayton home about 8 p.m. to sign divorce papers. The couple had separated a few weeks prior due to his gambling and drinking, he told the jury.
During the signing of the papers, they began to argue over who should get what.
At some point Deyerle said, he asked Heather for $10 for gas money and Heather became upset because he’d just gotten a vacation check and sold a quad for $1,000.
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He said when she asked where the money went, he told her he’d just bought a gun, which he’d picked up that afternoon from a Carson City pawn shop.
“She pretty much called me a liar, so I went to the truck and I got the gun and I said, ‘No, I’m not lying, it’s right here,’ and she gave me 10 bucks,” he recalled. “When she handed me the $10, she said, ‘Go buy some liquor, go kill yourself.’ I pretty much said I don’t want to be talked to like this and I said, you know what, can I use the phone first?”
Deyerle said he put the gun in his pocket and called his mother and grandfather, both of whom were to undergo surgery in the coming days. After the calls, he handed the phone back to Heather and it rang immediately, he said.
“She answers the phone and said, ‘I can’t talk. I’ll call you back.’ And I was like, who’s that, and she said, ‘Don’t worry about it.'”
Deyerle said he asked for the phone back and dialed *69 to retrieve the last incoming number. Then he dialed the number. When Matthew Grock, a man whom Heather had been spending time with, answered, Deyerle asked him who he was and he said he was a friend. Deyerle said he hung up on Grock and asked Heather if she was seeing him.
“And she said yeah, so I call him back and I said, ‘You are seeing my wife, where you at, you coming over?’ And he said yeah.”
Deyerle said, at that point he didn’t want to be there and he tried to leave, but Heather stopped him by trying to get in his truck. They argued in the street and he accused her of cheating on him.
“And she says, ‘Yeah I’m (expletive) him, I’ll (expletive) whoever I want, whenever I want. Go (expletive) yourself.’ And I just lost it. I just started shooting the gun in the air.”
“Did you ever plan to kill your wife,” asked Defense Attorney John Schlegelmilch.
“No, I didn’t,” Deyerle said. “I didn’t mean for this, I didn’t mean for any of this.”
Heather was hit once in the pelvis and once in the head. A pathologist reported there was gunpowder in the head wound suggesting a shot at close range.
“You got up real close to her and you shot her in the head,” District Attorney Bob Auer said on cross examination.
“No, I didn’t,” Deyerle responded.
Auer questioned Deyerle on the testimony of several witnesses, that he had threatened to kill his wife if he found out she was seeing another man. Deyerle denied most of the allegations, except for a conversation he had with a blackjack dealer from the Piñon Plaza a week before the killing.
“He asked me – and he was joking around and I was joking around, I never meant anything serious – he said, ‘What would you do if you found out she had a boyfriend,’ (and I said) I’d kill her,” Deyerle said.
“So you weren’t happy about the idea that Heather Deyerle might be able to have a different man friend other than you right?” Auer asked.
“No,” Deyerle said.
“And if you found out that happened you were going to do something about it, you were gonna take action?” asked Auer.
“No,” Deyerle responded.
“That’s what you told Larry Ward,” Auer countered, referring to Deyerle’s former boss who said Deyerle told him he’d stab a romantic rival in the neck.
“I just talk a lot of (expletive),” Deyerle said.
Deyerle testified that he bought the gun to go shooting with a friend later the night of the killing. And, he said, when he left his house on the night of the killing, he intended to come home because he took something out of the freezer to defrost for dinner.
The only other defense witness on Friday was former Lyon County Sheriff’s Lt. John Arndell.
Schlegelmilch handed the retired investigator a photograph taken at Deyerle’s house after the shooting. “What does that depict,” Schlegelmilch asked.
“A dirty sink,” Arndell said. “And a piece of pork thawing out. A piece of meat.”
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.