The suspected gunman in the Feb. 12 shooting death of 44-year-old Tammy Meyers was physically abused as an infant, according to defense attorneys who said that detail may matter as the case progresses.
In 1995 when Erich Nowsch was about 7 weeks old, he suffered a skull fracture. His father, who has since died, was charged with felony child abuse. Nowsch’s father later pleaded guilty to the charge, said attorney Augustus Claus on Friday.
Because prosecutors have said the death penalty is an option in the case against Nowsch, Claus said that “simply as a matter of prudence that may become relevant down the road.”
Nowsch, 19, who is being held in the Clark County Detention Center, faces charges including one count each of first-degree murder, attempted murder and discharging a gun into a vehicle.
The investigation into the death of Meyers has produced a whirlwind of inconsistent stories, said Nowsch’s lawyers.
“So much doesn’t seem to match up with the evidence that right now all we’re trying to do is eliminate the possibilities,” said defense attorney Conrad Claus, brother of Augustus Claus. “Believing anything the Meyers family is saying without looking for evidence to back it up would be an unwise thing to do.”
As authorities investigate what actually happened Feb. 12 when Meyers, 44, was shot in the head, they’ve continued to search for someone who was with Nowsch at the time.
Authorities believe Nowsch was a passenger in a vehicle when the shooting occurred. His lawyers have said he does not have a driver’s license, does not routinely drive and does not own a car.
Prosecutor David Stanton said Friday that he could not comment on “anything about the status of the investigation on any other party other than Mr. Nowsch.”
The defense lawyers have said they wanted to have Meyers’ body tested for gunshot residue, but on Friday he told a judge that her body had already been released to the family.
“It is my suspicion that Tammy Meyers did not shoot a gun that night,” Conrad Claus said. “But I cannot say that for sure. We don’t know what happened that night.”
He added that testing Meyers’ entire body for gunshot residue might not have been part of the “standard body of tests” in the autopsy.
Meyers died two days after the shooting. Nowsch, who police said was a gang member, was arrested last week in connection with what was originally described by family members as a road rage incident.
But her family has told stories about events leading up to her death that conflicted with police reports.
Robert Meyers Sr. has said his wife went looking for Nowsch the night of the shooting because she knew one of the people involved. She was afraid trouble might follow them home, he said, so she and her 22-year-old son, Brandon, tried to divert them from the house.
Initially, the Meyers family said Tammy Meyers was driving home from Johnson Junior High School where she was teaching her 15-year-old daughter how to parallel park. She was in a crash with another car and sped home after the other driver threatened her, the family said. Tammy Meyers and her daughter arrived home on Mount Shasta Circle, but the car followed and gunned down the mother before she could enter the house.
But Metro said there was no crash on the way home and that Tammy Meyers and her 22-year-old son went out looking for the vehicle she had encountered earlier that evening. The son took his gun.
After finding the other car, Tammy Meyers and her son followed it, police said. At some point, the other vehicle began following the mother and son.
It went to their house, to their home, and a gunfight ensued. Shots were fired from the sedan, police said. Brandon Meyers shot back.
Conrad Claus said the stories the family told don’t make sense.
“When you’re trying to make sense of things, you know that Brandon Meyers hasn’t told the truth,” Claus said. “At least they’ve not been consistent. They can’t have told the truth and say all the things they’ve said.”
Contact reporter David Ferrara at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker