Larry Millete ordered to stand trial for murder of missing wife
A Chula Vista man whose wife remains missing more than two years after vanishing from her home was ordered Wednesday to stand trial for her murder.
Larry Millete, 41, is charged with the murder of the mother of his three children, May "Maya" Millete, who has not been seen or heard from since Jan. 7, 2021.
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.
Prosecutors allege that Larry Millete killed his wife because she sought to divorce him.
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 Maya's family and asked them to convince Maya to change her mind, according to testimony.
Those same family members testified that on prior occasions when Maya 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 Maya 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 Maya was still alive, nor that she would voluntarily abandon her family, particularly her children. The prosecutor noted a text exchange between Maya and Larry in which Maya 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.
"(Maya) 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 Maya 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 Maya'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 Maya 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 Maya ever leaving the family home after Jan. 7. Martinez said there were alternate methods of exiting the house that cameras could not capture.
The attorney said that on Jan. 8 Maya had complained that she couldn't get any work done at home because her young son was bothering her, so Larry took the boy to the beach.
Martinez also sajd there was no evidence of anyone witnessing Larry commit domestic violence against his wife.
"He can tell you he loves his wife very much and he did not kill her," Martinez said.
Millete was arrested in October of 2021 on suspicion of murdering Maya. A trial date has been tentatively set for September.