A mother unflinchingly took on her daughter's alleged killer in a Seattle court room this week, a man whom she once called her son-in-law but has since pursued for years as a suspect.
Nicole Pietz vanished from home in 2006 and her husband, David Pietz, was among those talking to reporters at the time, wondering where she was. Her body was later found strangled in a wooded area.
Nicole's mother, Gael Schneider, Monday told the court of her grief as she watched David Pietz walk free back then after her daughter's death.
"I just said he murdered my daughter," Schneider said. "I've cried my brains out every day for seven years. ... If he can't take being confronted by a 72-year-old woman, he's not much of a man."
Detectives with the King County Sheriff's Office Major Crimes Unit arrested Pietz in March and charged him with second-degree murder in the death of his wife, 32.
Police were interested in David Pietz, 34, as a suspect early on after his wife disappeared. Authorities say he was unhappy with the marriage, frustrated with his job and having affairs. But it would be six years before they arrested him, claiming to have built a case on circumstantial evidence and DNA.
Defense attorneys call the case flimsy, without a single eyewitness to a crime.
"It's not based on any direct evidence, and it's not going to show that David Pietz took Nicole's life," Pietz's defense attorney Cooper Offenbecher said.
Prosecutors say the case will take time to prove, adding that Pietz was methodical in covering up the alleged crime.
Nicole's mother Monday testified about her daughter's funeral and something she says David told her that day.
"He put his arms around me and said, 'I didn't think you'd take it so hard,'" she said.