Sunday, September 30, 2007



"A Dayton man, found guilty of first degree murder last week after a six day trial in Third Judicial District Court in Yerington, has been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole (with parole available after a minimum of 20 years served).

A seven-woman, five-man jury returned the guilty verdict against Christopher Deyerle, 26, who was charged in connection with the May, 2006, murder of his wife, Heather......

Also prior to the penalty phase of the case, defense attorney John Schlegelmilch argued against the use of penalty phase testimony being allowed from a former girlfriend, the mother of one of Deyerle's children, and about prior acts of alleged abuse from Deyerle, charging that notification wasn't offered, as the State had withdrawn Jessie Wilkinson as a witness for the trial and, as a result, he didn't expect her to be called as a penalty phase witness.

Schlegelmilch argued he could call at least one woman who had a relationship with Deyerle to testify he never was abusive or violent toward her, but that he didn't have time to get her there that day. He also asked for a continuance, saying she could come but would have to arrange time off work. Judge Estes denied the request; however the woman, Jamie Sherman, was allowed to testify on behalf of the defense over the phone........

Deyerle, who took the stand on the final full day of the trial, said he simply "lost it" the day of the shooting---after an argument with his wife about his spending and lack of a job, and during which, he testified, she revealed a relationship with another man, He testified after the shooting he didn't think he'd killed Heather and was simply scared and ran after her father came out of the house.

Closing arguments:

The argument both during trial and during closing arguments was not whether Deyerle committed the act, but whether he did it in a fit of passion or with aforethought. The difference determined first or second degree charges and, as a result, the sentence for the defendant.

During the closing statements, District Attorney Robert Auer argued the defendant was possessive of Heather and had told several people of his intent to kill her if she was caught cheating on him.

The crux, of the case rested in the moments leading up to the shooting and whether a final fatal shot occurred, Auer argued, charging Deyerle had walked up and shot Heather in the head after a previous bullet had knocked her to the ground. The defendant's attorney, though, said witnesses recalled hearing successions of rapid gunshots rather than several shots followed by a single shot.

Schlegelmilch also contended the defendant was arguing with Heather, and she said something to infuriate him and push him over the edge.

Auer contended at least two neutral witnesses saw no provocation; and lastly, he questioned why the defendant did not simply leave when the first rapid shots missed Heather, charging that lended (that is what the article in the newspaper said folks) support to a calculated killing.

Schlegelmilch countered that the victims father described Deyerle as appearing scared in the driveway immediately afterward; and that after the defendant ran away, and upon his arrest near the Carson River, he first inquired about Heather's health, which indicates Deyerle did not mean to kill Heather.

Testifying on behalf of the victim in the penalty phase were her father, mother, younger brother, her step-brother and a friend.

Testifying for the defense in the penalty phase were Deyerle's mother, a close friend, his grandmother and grandfather. His friend testified that Deyerle had a tough early life, including a brother who abused him, and that he had been diagnosed with ADHD and a learning disability. She said he had never been violent.....Schlegelmilch asked family members if Deyerle had ever expressed anything other than regret about the killing of his wife, and they all said no. "

Not verbatim, but a summary for you.

My question is what would make someone think, even in a fit of passion, that shooting at someone, other than in self defense, was an option. Which is why I have read a lot of crime books and watch so many of the crime and detective shows on TV. For years I have thought that along with the reading, writing and arithmetic, the subject of human decency and respect should be a required subject in the curriculum of all schools, starting in the earliest grades, everywhere. Perhaps the UN could work on that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Journey Into Jury Duty

The notice I received said that my name had been drawn for the jury panel for 2007. It went on to say, "When you are summoned for a specific date, be prepared to stay all day or for a number of consecutive days..."! I set the notice aside without much notice as I had served jury duty 7 years before in Spokane County in Washington State. Also, my husband had been selected for jury duty last year and was summoned for a case which was settled out of court. I was expecting the case I was summoned for to be settled out of court also. When I made the call to the clerk's office though, I was told that the case would go on as scheduled. PANIC!

What am I going to wear!!!!
Consistent with the dignity and decorum of the Court, the following attire will be required for Court appearance:
(A) Male: Long or short sleeve dress-type shirts; slacks or dress-type denim trousers, shoes or boots.
(B) Female; Dresses, slacks or shirts and blouses; dress shoes.
In no event will t-shirts, tank or halter-tops, shorts, soiled or unkempt clothing thongs, sandals or casual exercise apparel be allowed.

Let me be clear. I didn't have to have instructions in order to dignify this serious duty with appropriate apparel. What I did initially think was that I needed to loose 30 pounds in three days in order to fit into any of the appropriate clothing I now possess. And if it turned out that the case required us to be sequestered for several days.....!

So I went into the mode I usually go through when I prepare to be away from home for vacation or such. PANIC!!!! I try on all wardrobe possibilities, make lists, go through my toiletries, make more lists and on and on until it is 1:35 of the night before and I have to get up at 6:45 the next morning. Well, I got into bed and tossed and turned until, of course, 5:38 when I had to get up and pee. Healthy REM was out of the question now. I dressed in black RL slacks, a pink RL long sleeve blouse with black stripes, white collar and cuffs adding a black Claibourne tie from my husbands huge collection, the knot hanging loosely several inches below the collar of my blouse. I was pleased with my dignified appearance. I slipped into my navy Crocs, intending to change into black dress shoes before entering the courthouse (but, I forgot until I was sitting in a jurors seat and unable to do anything about it).

Anyway, I drove off. The drive was pleasant and uneventful. When I turned onto Main Street behind several cars I had been following and or had been following me most of the way, I realized we must all be going to the same place, The Lyon County Courthouse. The setting was straight out of that Grisham book where the lawyers house gets burned down. What was the name of that book? Excuse me a minute. I must go to and find out. (A passage of time.........) "A Time To Kill" is the name of the book.

I was transported a hundred years as I stepped through the huge wooden doors, then the more modern glass ones. A worn wooden staircase loomed before me. Typed instructions taped to the front doors had directed me to Court Room 1 on the second floor. I climbed the stairs and waited with the others circled against the walls around the landing, inspecting the interesting pattern of the worn black and white marble floor, the elaborate dark wood crown molding, wainscoting and paneling while waiting for the door to Court Room 1 to open. When it did , we all herded in and took a seat. There were more people than the 112 seats, perhaps three dozen more, and they all crowded around the walls. The architecture here was as equally fascinating to me as the rest had been. The movie "To Kill a Mockingbird" immediately came to mind. I wouldn't have been surprised to see the lawyers in suspenders when they finally came out.

The defendant was sitting alone at the defense table when we entered the courtroom. He wore dark rimmed glasses, a short sleeve white shirt that obviously had just come out of a new package, a tie of horizontal stripes in various shades of blue, chinos and a dark belt. His hair was shaved almost bald, but it was obviously very dark and a fraction of an inch longer like a rice bowl on top of his head. From the jury seat I later realized that initially I sat directly behind members of his family. I had wondered about that when I noticed that two of the girls in front of me looked related to each other and were whispering to one another and at one point I saw one of them quietly crying. (I have always been intuitive like that).

I wanted to take this time to apologize for all the years that I smoked and sat next to people smelling like an ashtray. I seem to have chosen a seat surrounded by smokers and I couldn't just get up and move. So now I know. Sorry.

We were instructed to stand. The judge entered and sat behind his imposing podium, then instructed us to sit. We sat. He greeted us cordially and thanked us for coming. He asked us to respond with "here" when the court clerk called our name (The people in front of me never responded....another clue to their identity). And then he told us. And I could physically feel the heavy onus that was felt in the room when the judge announced that the case we were here for was one of "Murder in the first degree".

The jury box on the right side of the courtroom consisted of two rows of six old swivel wooden arm chairs attached to the floor with a smaller box on the right having four more of the same chair. There were two rows of brown folding chairs set up in front of the jury box. The clerk turned the handle of a tumbler, opened the door of it and pulled out a small piece of paper, then read aloud the name on it. My name was the sixth to be called and I took my seat.

When everyone was seated the judge explained how the selection of the twelve jurors and two alternates would be selected. He would ask us some general questions. The defense attorney would ask us more specific questions and then the prosecutor would ask us questions. We were instructed to raise our hands if we had a positive answer to the questions asked. I felt like I raised my hand more often than most. In my previous jury experience, most of the questions that the judge asked had been answered on a questionnaire before we filed into the courtroom. Also in my previous jury duty they told us what the case was about before they asked if we had heard about it. If you were only told that it was a case of murder in the first degree how would you answer the question, "Do you have any knowledge of the facts in this case?"

As the questions were asked some people would be thanked for their honesty and excused. The clerk would reach into the "Bingo like" drum and call another name. After we had been seated for a little over an hour the judge called for a fifteen minute recess, instructing us to not discuss the case amongst each other or with anyone else, not to read any newspapers or listen to any TV or radio news and to sit in the same seats we now occupied when we returned from our break.

As we were filing out I was standing next to the prosecuting attorney when some perspective jurors complained to him about a group of people who were talking with each other, obviously not in the jury pool and were very distracting. I had noticed them when we were waiting to come in to the courtroom and questioned whether they were perspective jurors because they all reminded me of Ozzie Osbourne and wore medal medallions around there necks that were five point stars inside a circle. When we returned from our break they were no longer in the courtroom.

The questioning continued until there were no more positive answers and no more questions. I was still seated. The judge excused the remaining jury pool still in the audience and called for a thirty minute recess, instructing us to sit in the courtroom seats when we returned.

We waited maybe ten to fifteen minutes in the courtroom before the accused, the deputies, lawyers, stenographer, clerk, etc and finally the judge returned. The judge reassured all of us that we shouldn't feel bad because we had all been deemed worthy to serve. Then the twelve jurors and two alternates, that had been selected, took their seats as the clerk called their names. It felt a bit like choosing up teams for a baseball game, "will I be chosen?" I wasn't. I was sorta disappointed and relieved at the same time. The thought of not having to possibly be sequestered for a week and a half or more, or having to get up unnaturally early (for me) and driving an hour each way every day for that long was relieving. I drove home.

That next night on the news the accused was shown in black and white stripe prison garb, hands in cuffs clasped in front of his body, shuffling into the courtroom (not the same one I had been in the day before) with ankle restraints to be arraigned, last year. And the newsman said, "A Dayton man accused of killing his estranged wife in her parents driveway now is on trial. Opening statements were held today in the murder trial of 26 year old Christopher D. Prosecutors say last year D shot and killed his wife, 24 year old Heather Green D. Lyon Co. authorities caught him the next day. He reportedly told deputies that he intended to kill himself but he ran out of bullets. He faces life in prison if he's convicted."

I will keep you informed.

Jury Duty update coming soon to a blog near you!

Exhausted from too little sleep. Will get some and get back to you soonest.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Jury Duty

I was hoping that the case would be settled out of court and I wouldn't have to make the more than one hour trip to the County Courthouse. I served jury duty before in Spokane, WA., but the courthouse was only 10-15 minutes away.

I am told to be prepared to stay all day or for a number of consecutive days. Whoa, now! I'm hoping I will be able to come home. How would one prepare for something like this?