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Judge rules Larry Millete to stand trial for murder of missing wife, Maya

Judge Moring made the decision on Wednesday shortly after both sides rested of the preliminary hearing. A jury trial is expected to begin on September 14.

SAN DIEGO — After 10 days of testimony during a preliminary hearing, a judge has made the ruling that there was enough evidence presented for Larry Millete to stand trial for the murder of his wife, Maya.

After nearly two weeks in the Downtown San Diego courthouse, Judge Dwayne Moring – a former public defender and a former San Diego prosecutor – has decided that there is enough evidence for Millete to be bound over for trial to face murder charges for his missing wife, Maya Millete.

In ruling to hold Millete to answer for murder, Judge Moring noted, "There is a marked contrast in the defendant's actions before Ms. Millete's disappearance and afterward that provides a strong suspicion of his guilt."

Despite the fact that her body has not been found, Superior Court Judge Dwayne Moring cited case law allowing murder cases to proceed without the body's presence.  

After the judge’s decision, Larry entered a plea of not guilty. The judge set a date of March 22 for the status conference and the jury trial will begin on September 14, 2023 at 9 a.m.

Since January 2021, the disappearance of Chula Vista mother Maya Millete has been under investigation by authorities and the subject of local and national news. The Chula Vista Police Department and multiple federal agencies, including the FBI, have looked into her disappearance for more than 2 years.

The last time Maya was heard from was on Jan. 7, 2021. Her husband Larry Milete was arrested on October 19, 2021 and charged with murder.

Watch Day 10 of Larry Millete prelim hearing & judge's decision to move to trial:

During a two-week preliminary hearing, evidence and testimony were presented indicating that Larry Millete sought the assistance of family members and "spell casters" to compel May to give up her plans for divorce.

As the marriage crumbled, Larry began reaching out to several members of May's family and asked them to convince May to change her mind, according to testimony.

Those same family members testified that on prior occasions when May could not be located, Larry tended to panic and, in one instance, planted a cell phone in her vehicle in order to track her whereabouts.

According to evidence presented this week, Millete spent $1,154.05 for magic spells he believed could make his wife love him and remain in their marriage. In other instances, Millete sought to have his wife injured, sick or suffer from nightmares either as a form of punishment or so she would be dependent on him, according to testimony.

After May disappeared, her family members testified that Larry did not participate in any searches for her or help spread the word of her disappearance.

He also ceased his requests for any spells to be cast on his wife after she vanished.

In ruling to hold Millete to answer for murder, Judge Moring noted, "There is a marked contrast in the defendant's actions before Ms. Millete's disappearance and afterward that provides a strong suspicion of his guilt."

Deputy District Attorney Christy Bowles argued Wednesday there was no evidence to suggest May was still alive, nor that she would voluntarily abandon her family, particularly her children. The prosecutor noted a text exchange between May and Larry in which May says she wanted to leave the marriage and was "only here for the kids."

On Jan. 8, "(Larry) is nowhere to be found," Bowles said, referencing his absence from work and numerous attempts from family and colleagues to reach him throughout that day.

Police and prosecutors allege that between 6:45 a.m. and around 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 8, Millete's phone was turned off and surveillance camera footage shows a black Lexus SUV, allegedly driven by Millete, leave his home at about 6:45 a.m. and return to the home at around 6 p.m.

Larry told investigators that he was at Solana Beach all day with his son, according to testimony. Det. Jesse Vicente of the Chula Vista Police Department testified that investigators could not find any evidence confirming that Millete was at the beach that day.

"May Millete did not just fall off the face of the earth," Bowles argued Wednesday. "She lived for and adored her children. She would not and did not leave, voluntarily, her children."

Larry Millete's defense attorney, Bonita Martinez, argued Larry's behavior during 2020 stemmed from an alleged affair May was having with a co- worker. She said Larry was "tormented" by the alleged infidelity and attempted to repair the marriage through counseling and other means, to no avail.

Martinez said Larry had threatened to reopen an investigation at May's prior workplace, the Navy's Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, regarding the alleged office affair.

The defense attorney said that investigation would have revealed that May  had lied to NCIS.

"She was in a tight spot. She has to disappear," Martinez said.

Police witnesses testified that through surveillance footage they reviewed, there is no evidence of May ever leaving the family home after Jan. 7. Martinez said there were alternate methods of exiting the house that cameras could not capture.
Millete was arrested in October of 2021 on suspicion of murdering May. A trial date has been tentatively set for September.

WATCH RELATED: Day 9 | Larry Millete preliminary hearing wraps up in San Diego court

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