David Nieuwenhuis, 46, was sentenced in Snohomish County Superior Court on Monday to 23 years in prison for the November 2018 killing of Candice Black at his residence in Mountlake Terrace.
A jury on April 26 found Nieuwenhuis guilty of second-degree murder in Black’s death.
Written statements from six members of Black’s family were provided to the court before sentencing. They noted she was a talented artist who loved Disney movies, traveling, cats and animals. Black was described as “an amazing person with a huge heart” who “loved helping people.”
She “had the best laugh, that was contagious, and a beautiful smile,” her mother wrote. Her younger sister wrote that she “was taken from me in the cruelest way” and “her life was taken out of anger and rage.”
Several also described how their lives had been shattered by Black’s murder and learning about the circumstances of her death, along with the toll it had taken on the family since then. Her aunt wrote, “Part of us died that day too,” and she described being heartbroken as a result of the killing.
“She was my first born, my baby girl,” and “my heart was shattered into a million pieces,” her mother wrote, “The loss of Candice crushed me.” She noted that the criminal case against Nieuwenhuis provided a resolution “but it doesn’t bring closure. I will never come to terms with her brutal senseless death.” She added, “I understand he was grieving the loss of his stepson but why did he have to take my daughter.”
Shortly before 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2018, Nieuwenhuis called 911 to report that he had hit the girlfriend of his deceased stepson approximately two hours before, that she was lying unconscious outside his home, and that he thought he may have killed her.
Mountlake Terrace police found the 29-year-old Black’s body lying face down at the base of the residence’s driveway, located in the 23600 block of 53rd Avenue West. She was nonresponsive and observed to have extensive injury to the back of her head and surrounded by a pool of blood.
Adjacent to Black’s body on the ground was an approximately 39-inch-long wooden club with a bulbous end. A number of embedded metal screw heads protruded from the surface of the “striking” end of the club. Blood and hair were found adhered to the club’s striking end and on its shaft.
Nieuwenhuis told police that his 25-year-old son Kyle Johnson, who had lived in his home along with Black, had died the previous week from a drug overdose. He said both his son and Black used heroin and methamphetamine and that Black was present at the time of the overdose — and he blamed her for his son’s death.
He then contacted Black on the afternoon of Nov. 11 and told her to come over to his house to remove her belongings, which he threw into the front yard prior to her arrival. After Black arrived at the residence, Nieuwenhuis told her he had found ledgers that he believed showed that she and Johnson were dealing drugs and that he was going to bring those transaction records to the attention of law enforcement.
Nieuwenhuis told police that after approximately two hours of discussion, he got up to use the restroom and when he returned to the living room Black had unexpectedly struck him one time in the forehead with her iPad. He then retrieved a large stick that he kept behind his front door for protection and struck her one time with the stick and twice with his hands. Nieuwenhuis stated he does not remember what happened next, but that he “went into a rage,” lost control and that he was in a “fight for his life” with Black when they somehow ended up outside.
He also reported having struck Black at least once with the weapon after she was on the ground in his driveway. Nieuwenhuis said he then went back inside his house and fell asleep. After waking up, he called his mother and then called 911. When asked, he said that he had not gone out to check on Black.
Judge Millie Judge said she believed that Nieuwenhuis killed Black in retribution for the death of Johnson. She characterized the killing as a “vicious, brutal attack no matter how you look at it” and noted that Nieuwenhuis had then left Black to die on his concrete driveway, waiting several hours before contacting 911.
The 278-month prison sentence that Judge handed down to Nieuwenhuis was on the high end of state sentencing guidelines, which prosecutors had advocated for. They noted that he also had four prior felony convictions as an adult — including one in 1999 for second-degree incest and several since then for failing to register as a sex offender.
Prosecutors said that in the state’s view, the killing itself “could be described as deranged” and they felt that Nieuwenhuis had done so “with revenge” and “hasn’t shown any remorse.”
During Monday’s sentencing hearing, Nieuwenhuis apologized for his actions but added he was “not sure” what he could have done differently. He reported thinking about the killing “every night” and said he will regret it for the rest of his life. “I’m sorry and I regret my actions, I reacted terribly,” Nieuwenhuis said, noting that he felt those were influenced by grief and his mental state at the time after Johnson’s death.
— By Nathan Blackwell