Maya Millete’s sister-in-law testified Wednesday, telling the court about the lengths Larry Millete said he would go to keep his marriage intact, including selling his soul, using spellcasters and playing white-noise messages of love and togetherness in their home.
On the fifth day of the preliminary hearing, Genesis Nicolas-Tabalanza resumed her testimony from Tuesday. Maya Millete’s sister-in-law went into detail about what she knew about the missing woman’s marital problems with Larry Millete.
She said everything seemed normal from the time she met Maya in the mid-2000s, but that all changed in January 2020.
She said she began receiving daily barrages of text messages and calls from Larry. She told the court he would ask her where Maya was and express fear and desperation that she would leave the marriage. Most days, she said she would hear from him more than a dozen times, while other days the volume was far higher.
She testified that the communications didn’t bother her. She said she cared deeply for Maya and wanted her marriage to work out. Nicolas-Tabalanza said she lived with the Milletes after marrying Maya’s brother, and felt grateful for her help and friendship.
In February of that year, she said she was contacted by Larry, who suspected that Maya was having an affair with a co-worker. But he said he didn’t have proof. She said Larry admitted to hiding his daughter’s cellphone in Maya’s car so he could track her whereabouts.
In May, she said the pair had a fight that resulted in Maya moving into her apartment. That separation lasted about a month. During that time, she said Maya opened up to her about her marital problems, telling her that she felt exhausted by Larry, who also communicated with her relentlessly while she was working. She said Maya told her Larry would often punch the wall during arguments.
“She said she was tired of seeing scars on the wall,” Nicolas-Tabalanza said. “I asked her what she meant, scars on the wall. She said Larry would sometimes get angry and punch the walls and then cover it up so you wouldn’t see it later.”
In June, Nicolas-Tabalanza said Larry told her he tracked Maya again, and found her sitting with a man named Jamie in a white truck. Pictures of the white truck were displayed in court while she testified. She said Larry told her he confronted the pair.
“He asked Jamie ‘what are you doing here in this vehicle with my wife’ and Maya was just surprised and started crying,” Nicolas-Tablanaza said.
She said Larry helped Maya move out of the apartment that evening, and back into the family’s home. Despite the end of the separation, she said the large number of calls and text messages from Larry continued. As those texts were shown to the court, she testified that Larry felt desperate and anxious about his relationship with Maya, fearing she would leave him.
She even said he told her that he’d be in contact with spellcasters to do whatever it took to keep her around. One text from Larry read, “Yeah, I was hesitant but if it can help. I’m willing to sell my soul. Maybe I shouldn’t say that.”
Then in August of 2020, Nicolas-Tabalanza said Maya discovered her daughter’s phone in her car, and realized she was being tracked. She said Larry also told her May found out he purchased and was using white-noise machines that could play subliminal messages about love and family around the home.
She said both revelations caused Maya to decide she wanted to divorce Larry. Nicolas-Tabalanza said the decline in the relationship was evident in conversations she had with Larry.
“If May’s not willing to fix the marriage, he would report him so May could lose her job so he could get 100% custody of the kids,” Nicolas-Tabalanza recounted.
She said Maya told her to stop communicating with Larry.
“She told me, Stop answering Larry’s calls,” Nicolas-Tabalanza said. “‘Because anything you say to him can be used against me in a court. If something happens to me, it’s going to be Larry.”
Many of the questions from attorney Bonita Martinez were objected to by the defense, and disallowed by the Judge. At times, he appeared to lose patience with Martinez, asking her to wrap it up or stop continuing down a particular line of questioning.
Those questions seemed to bother Nicolas-Tabalanza, who got emotional, and tearfully told Martinez, “I feel like you are torturing me.”
Judge Dwayne Morning then announced, “I’m not going to let this go on any further.”
A recess was then called to allow Nicolas-Tabalanza time to compose herself. When court resumed, she was only questioned for three more minutes.
The prosecution then called Maya’s former supervisor, Derek Sopp. He testified about accusations that Maya was having an affair with her subordinate co-worker that arose after an unnamed woman called the workplace several times to report it. He said both Maya and the subordinate, who wasn’t named in court, were called into his office to discuss the accusations. He told the court what they told him cleared up any concerns of improper conduct.
Not long afterward, he said he received multiple emails from Larry, asking for a different subordinate co-worker to be transferred to a different unit within the workplace. He said he ignored the first email, but responded to a second one a few days later, telling Larry that wouldn’t happen.
Sopp said Maya kept their relationship very professional, but confided in him on one occasion that she was having trouble with her marriage. He said she gave a few examples of issues she was having with Larry’s behavior, like hm always insisting she had her phone on to track her location, and having control of her financial accounts. He also said she told him Larry insisted on having passwords to all of her web and social media accounts so he could see who she was talking to and what she was talking about. He said the only other time she discussed personal matters was in early January 2021.
“She said she was calling to give me a heads up that she would be divorcing Larry and that she’d hired an attorney,” Sopp said. “Said he’d threatened to ruin her professionally.”
On several occasions, the defense asked Sopp for more information concerning the alleged affair and how it was investigated at work. Many of those questions were also disallowed by the Judge due to sustained objections from the prosecution.
Before the next witness took the stand, Judge Moring joked with the prosecution that she should pick her questions carefully. He said that for every question she asked, the defense would ask 15.
Maya’s Brother Jaypie Tabalanza took the stand last for the day. He talked about his communications with Larry before and after Maya vanished. A few of the conversations revolved around the alleged affair.
“He wanted to find out if we could find someone to get that guy,” Tabalanza said.
He said he didn’t know exactly what Larry meant by that, and said he didn’t ask.
Later in 2020, during a family Christmas visit, he said Larry brought it up again.
“The only way to get my sister back is to get rid of that guy,” Tabalanza said.
Tabalanza said he told Larry to let it go.
The next month, during a family trip to Glamis, California, he said Larry told him he’d be willing to pay money to fix the situation.
“He asked me again if I knew anyone who could get that guy for $20,000 and there would be $4,000 in it for you,” Tabalanza said. “He said he couldn’t let it go. And that he liked torturing people and cutting their b**** off.”
Tabalanza said Maya was heavily involved with planning a trip to Big Bear the weekend of January 9, 2021, to celebrate her daughter’s birthday. He said she communicated daily with family members about all the planning particulars. He said the entire family grew concerned when she stopped responding to Facebook messages, texts, and phone calls on January 8. He said he never saw or heard from her again.
Both Jaypie Tabalanza and Genesis Nicolas-Tabalanza testified that Larry was usually very intense and emotional whenever he couldn’t get in touch with Maya. However, they both say Larry was calm when she vanished on January 8, 2021.
Jaypie Tabalanza goes back on the witness stand Thursday morning at 9 a.m.