Murder trial goes to jury
September 17, 2007
YERINGTON — Jurors began deliberations this morning after closing arguments in the first-degree murder trial of Christopher Deyerle.
Deyerle, 26, is charged in the May 4, 2006, shooting death of his estranged wife Heather on the night the couple were to sign divorce papers.
After brief closing arguments in which Lyon County District Attorney Bob Auer pushed for a first-degree murder conviction, jurors began deliberations about 11 a.m.
Auer told the jury that there were two ways to see the facts of the case — the way of several witnesses who testified that Deyerle repeatedly threatened Heather and stated he would kill her, and Deyerle’s testimony that he didn’t threaten to kill his wife except once in jest.
“There are two worlds here ladies and gentlemen,” said Auer.
Auer went on to describe the fatal gunshot to Heather’s head, as intentional.
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“He executed her. He went right up and he executed her,” he said.
Deyerle’s attorney described the shooting as wild. The defendant admitted on the stand that he chased her and shot her.
Defense attorney John Schlegelmilch, however, told the jury that there was no premeditation on his client’s part. That Deyerle reacted to news that his wife was seeing another man.
“Ten minutes. Ten minutes that drove Chris Deyerle into a white heat of passion,” he said. “This is a case about passion. The law recognizes three distinct classes of killing.”
Schlegelmilch said his client was guilty of manslaughter, punishable by one to 10 years in prison, and that the state hadn’t proven he premeditated and intended to kill his wife – elements needed to prove first-degree murder.
Schlegelmilch also remarked on photographs taken at Deyerle’s house after the shooting in which a piece of meat appeared to have been left to thaw out by Deyerle.
“You don’t leave out dinner if you are going to kill somebody and then kill yourself. You’re not coming home,” he said. “Mr. Deyerle knows what he did and he knows what he did was wrong. It definitely wasn’t a premeditated or deliberate murder.”
The jury is considering first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter.