SAN DIEGO — After a three-day break, the preliminary hearing for Larry Millete, the Chula Vista husband accused of murdering his wife, resumed Tuesday morning.
For the first time, we heard from Maya Millete's father, Pablito Tabalanza. He gave his testimony through an interpreter.
The 72-year-old testified in 2020, he received more phone calls from Larry than usual. He said his son-in-law wanted him to talk to Maya for him. He also told the judge he went to the Millete home in Chula Vista January 9 after his son Jay-R Tabalanza told him "something bad happened."
Tabalanza testified Larry told him Maya was in the bedroom. Tabalanza went and knocked on the door and called out for his daughter. There was no answer. He then said he asked Larry if he had a key. He said Larry reached into his pocket, pulled one out and opened the door.
WATCH FULL VIDEO: DAY 4 | AFTERNOON: Preliminary trial for Larry Millete continues in San Diego court
He said he was surprised Larry had a key, because only Maya was supposed to have access to that room.
"I went inside the room and called 'Maya' twice but none," testified Tabalanza through an interpreter. "And then Larry followed me, he went straight to Maya's table where she worked and he said 'Oh the credit card is not here,'"
The prosecutor asked "Was this unusual to you?"
Tabalanza replied "Yes of course. I was wondering why he would tell me about the credit card first."
WATCH FULL VIDEO: DAY 4 | MORNING: Preliminary trial for Larry Millete continues in San Diego court
Prosecutors allege Larry Millete, 41, killed her because she was seeking a divorce. In a declaration in a separate court case, Millete stated that he believed his wife left their home voluntarily.
Tabalanza testified Tuesday as part of a multiweek court proceeding in which a judge will decide if there is enough evidence for Larry Millete to stand trial for murder.
The preliminary hearing began last week and included testimony from May Millete's siblings.
Her younger brother, Jay-R Tabalanza, testified Friday that he also went to the Millete home on Jan. 8, 2021, to look for his sister and was told that she was in the upstairs bedroom. Jay-R testified that upon arriving at the home, one of Millete's daughters told him her mother had been "locked in her room for 11 hours now and she hasn't fed us."
Like his father, Jay-R Tabalanza testified that there was no response at the bedroom door.
Jay-R also testified regarding a series of text messages May sent him in 2020, in which she claimed that Larry was "manipulating" family members and had been trying to control her.
"I'm so tired of his mental and emotional abuse," she texted Tabalanza. Later she wrote, "He's got you all in his pockets and I'm alone and isolated ... exactly where he wants me to be."
May Millete said Larry was regularly monitoring her emails, messages, social media, and financial activity and had become "concerned" about her interactions with other men.
"I've stopped being friends with any guys," she texted her brother, who testified that Larry suspected his wife was having an affair and had expressed a desire to "get the other guy."
May moved out of the Chula Vista home in mid-2020 and in with Jay-R and his wife. Jay-R testified that when that occurred, Larry frequently called him to ask about May's whereabouts and what she was doing. He had also expressed his fears that May was going to leave him and asked Jay-R to persuade May to stay in the marriage.
Jay-R's wife, Genesis Tabalanza, testified Tuesday that after May moved in with them, Larry began texting her "all the time" with questions about May, including asking Genesis to check whether May was wearing her wedding ring.
BACKGROUND ON THE CASE:
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.
This preliminary hearing is not a trial. There are no jurors. Evidence will be presented, and witnesses will testify over two to three weeks in the Downtown San Diego courthouse. In the end, Judge Dwayne Moring – a former public defender and a former San Diego prosecutor – will decide if there is enough evidence for Millete to go to trial for murder.
WATCH RELATED: Maya's siblings take the stand during Larry Millete's preliminary hearing | Inside day 3 (Jan. 2023).
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