Inmate Charged in Murder at Pyramid Lake

RENO, Nev. (AP) - A Nevada prison inmate serving time for burglary has been indicted for murder in a fatal shooting over a drug deal five years ago - charges brought after scientists found the victim's remains while doing research north of Pyramid Lake.

A Washoe County grand jury handed up the indictment on Wednesday for Todd Michael Forsberg, 39, whose 12-to-30 month term for burglary is scheduled to expire in October at the Ely State Prison.

He was indicted on a charge of murder with the use of a firearm for the July 2003 slaying of Nathan Byrns, 36, of Reno. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole.

Forsberg was sentenced to prison for burglary in April 2007, just months before the biologists found Byrns' femur at an abandoned ranch on Smoke Canyon Road.

According to a criminal complaint filed against Forsberg, Byrns was killed because he ran off with the $200 Forsberg gave him to buy methamphetamine. Forsberg and two of Byrns' roommates had planned to "beat up" Byrns for the drug rip off, and asked him to meet them at his apartment.

Forsberg, Byrns and Byrns' roommate Karl Czekus drove together to the ranch where Forsberg confronted Byrns with a gun, the complaint said.

"Forsberg told Byrns that being embarrassed was his last mistake," the complaint said.

Forsberg fired the pistol but missed the first time. He fired three more times, striking Byrns in the forearm and torso, the complaint said. He was about to leave when Czekus said that Byrns was on the ground suffering and he needed to finish what he started.

The complaint said Forsberg walked up to Byrns who said "oh (expletive) I'm dying." Forsberg said "not yet and fired one more shot through Byrns' head, killing him."

Czekus and Forsberg ultimately rolled Byrns' body in carpet and a blanket and tied a rope around it, the complaint said. They left it under a tree and covered it with vegetation and boards.

On Aug. 19, 2007, biologists found Byrn's femur bone at the ranch. Investigators later located his body wrapped in the carpet and blankets. His remains were near complete and dental records helped identify him. His wallet had been left behind with numerous cards in Byrns' name. Deputies began investigating his disappearance and contacted his former girlfriend and roommates who gave them information about Forsberg.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)