Friend claims killing was planned
Appeal Staff Writer
YERINGTON – A friend of murder defendant Christopher Deyerle testified Wednesday that the unemployed union worker came to him two days before he gunned down his estranged wife in 2006 and told him he intended to shoot her.
“At first he said he was going to use (the gun) on himself, then he said he was going to hurt Heather,” said Dennis Ramirez, a friend at whose wedding Deyerle had been best man.
Ramirez said that after Deyerle and his wife of two years had split up, Deyerle had stayed with him at his Mound House home off and on toward the end of April.
On May 2, Ramirez was at his mother’s Carson City home when Deyerle drove by, saw his car and stopped in for a visit.
“He showed up and I asked him where he’d been and he said partying,” Ramirez recalled. Then Deyerle said he’d bought a gun, according to Ramirez.
“He said, ‘I’m gonna kill the bitch,'” Ramirez offered.
Ramirez said he told his own wife what Deyerle said and no one else.
“I was just scared,” Ramirez explained. “I didn’t want to get involved.”
Two days later on May 4, 2006, when the Deyerles met in Dayton at Heather’s parents’ house to sign divorce papers, Deyerle allegedly fired seven shots at the fleeing woman, striking her once in the pelvis and once in the head. She died three hours later at a Reno hospital.
Deyerle is charged with first degree murder. His attorney John Schlegelmilch suggested in opening statements that Deyerle didn’t plan to shoot Heather – an element necessary to prove first-degree murder – but instead “exploded,” when she told him she was seeing another man.
Ramirez’s statement to the jury Wednesday was different from the one he gave police when they went to his home immediately after Heather’s shooting in the search for Deyerle, according to defense statements.
Then, Ramirez wrote that Deyerle said he was going to kill himself in front of Heather’s house. He never mentioned the alleged statement about killing Heather, pointed out Schlegelmilch who had copies of both Ramirez’s original statement and a new one he wrote this week.
“Now, your wife also wrote a (new) statement and she indicates that she is coming forward with this information for Heather and her family,” said Schlegelmilch. “(Your wife) influenced you to make this statement today, didn’t she.”
“No she didn’t,” Ramirez said.
“You know what perjury is?” Schlegelmilch fired back, to which Judge Robert Estes said, “That is an improper question.”
Throughout Ramirez’s testimony, Deyerle repeatedly leaned over to speak with his attorney. On redirect Schlegelmilch asked Ramirez when he and Deyerle stopped hanging out.
“The night he shot Heather,” Ramirez said.
“Didn’t you two have a dispute over $600 that you had borrowed,” Schlegelmilch asked, as Deyerle nodded his head.
“Six hundred dollars,” Ramirez said. “No.”
The second day of the prosecution’s case included a number of witnesses, from the man whom Heather had been seeing, to deputies who responded to the shooting call, and Deyerle’s former boss who spoke of statements Deyerle made to him concerning his break up with his wife.
Deyerle’s former boss Larry Ward told the jury that a few weeks prior to the shooting, Deyerle had stopped by his job and said that he and Heather had broken up.
“He came by to vent,” Ward said.
Ward said Deyerle admitted to him that the couple had fought over his gambling problems.
“I think she had enough of the gambling and decided to split up,” Ward explained.
He also said Deyerle was suspicious that Heather was dating someone.
“He told me if he found out who she was seeing, he was going to stab him in the neck with a pencil,” Ward recalled.
During testimony from Deputy Jack Huizar, the first officer who arrived at the shooting scene, District Attorney Bob Auer questioned Huizar about wedding photographs he’d gotten from Heather’s parents to show what Deyerle looked like.
When Auer showed the photographs to Schlegelmilch at the defense table, Deyerle jolted at the sight of them and began to quietly cry.
Huizar’s testimony also brought an admonishment to the attorney’s from the judge when Schlegelmilch asked the officer to sort through a stack of evidence photographs and determine which one’s he had taken.
After excusing the jurors, Estes told the attorneys there would be no wasted time.
“We are not going to have these long pauses with the jury looking up the walls,” the judge said.
Testimony will resume today.
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.