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Jurors on Wednesday got a first glimpse of an explanation for the charge that Tom Fallis killed his wife after a New Year’s Eve party at their home four years ago.
At his wife’s gravesite, Fallis told coworker Joseph Koppes he heard the click of a gun that night, turned to see his wife, Ashley Fallis, holding the firearm and lunged across the room for her.
Koppes testified Wednesday he interpreted the story to mean Tom Fallis tried to stop his wife from shooting herself Jan. 1, 2012.
Attorneys spent Wednesday afternoon unpacking testimony from a number of witnesses – including Koppes – who attended the Fallis’ New Year’s Eve party only hours before Ashley Fallis died.
Tom Fallis, a former Weld County correctional officer, is accused of killing his wife after that party. Her death was initially ruled a suicide. The case was reopened in April 2014 after new evidence came to light. The Weld County Grand Jury indicted Tom Fallis on second-degree murder in November 2014.
Before a jury of 14, lawyers on Wednesday afternoon examined the events of the party through the memories of the couple’s friends and coworkers.
The same day as the party Ashley Fallis learned she had miscarried. Attorneys revealed her autopsy showed, despite having her tubes tied after her third child, one tube had started to grow back.
Koppes and his wife both recalled Ashley Fallis telling them she’d miscarried that day. Her mood, they said, took a downward turn at the mention of the miscarriage, but it quickly rebounded.
Her coworker and friend Andrea Mogensen – and at the time of the party, Morgenen’s husband Derek Mogensen – recounted a party with a decent atmosphere and happy, even if a few people were a bit drunk.
But when Andrea Mogensen left that night, Ashley Fallis was happy, she said. She added Ashley Fallis didn’t appear depressed or distraught.
Derek Mogensen said he felt Tom Fallis didn’t sound like a man who lost his wife to suicide when he spoke at her funeral. Tom Fallis looked more stressed than emotional at her funeral, he recounted before the jury.
When the defense lawyers played a video clip of Tom speaking at the funeral, Tom Fallis cried in the courtroom as he watched it.
In opening statements that morning, attorneys depicted Tom Fallis as a husband angry at his wife and her family, cussing at them the night she died, and Ashley Fallis as a depressed, self-destructive woman who had in the past contemplated suicide. Defense attorney Iris Eytan read a suicide note Ashley Fallis is said to have written six months prior:
“I can no longer go on living this life,” Eytan read. “I have so much pain on the inside.”
Ashley Fallis stopped taking her medication when she thought she was pregnant, she was drunk that night and she had just miscarried, Eytan said.
“She was a pressure cooker,” Eytan said.
Weld Chief Deputy District Attorney Anthea Carrasco started her opening statements with a fierce quote from Tom Fallis the night his wife was killed.
“You guys wanted to (expletive) get her high,” Carrasco said, quoting Tom Fallis comment’s to his wife’s family in the early morning hours after her death.
A packed courtroom sat in rapt attention as Carrasco walked the jury through the prosecution’s version of that New Year’s Eve party more than four years ago, with photos of the Fallis’ Evans home displayed on large TV screens behind her.
She told the story of a husband, angry at his wife for wanting to smoke marijuana, her family for providing it to her, encouraging it and causing him to go to the basement and then his room, describing him with a red faced and clenched fists. He already didn’t like her family, Carrasco said, blaming them for Ashley Fallis getting her tubes tied.
Conversely, Eytan cast the evening’s events in a different light, as the final act that brought a depressed, troubled woman to commit suicide.
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They deliberated the fate of Tom Fallis for three hours Thursday before finding him not guilty of second-degree murder. Jurors heard about two weeks of testimony in the case, in which defense attorneys argued that Ashley Fallis shot herself, and prosecutors said her husband was behind the shooting after a New Year’s Eve party at their home in Evans. “48 Hours” investigated the case in the episode, “Death after Midnight.”Ashley Fallis’ death was initially ruled a suicide, but the case was reopened after a teenage neighbor said he overheard Tom Fallis, a former Weld County deputy, confess. Ashley Fallis’ parents also pushed to have authorities re-investigate her death.
Neighbor Nick Glover, who was 15 when Ashley Fallis died, testified that he overheard his neighbor confess to shooting his wife as he was crouched beneath an open window.
However, the Evans police officer who interviewed Glover, his sister and their mother said none of them mentioned anything about a confession.
Tom Fallis, 36, who moved to Bloomington, Indiana after his wife’s death, didn’t testify during his trial.
Prosecutors portrayed Fallis as an angry man who was set off when his wife wanted to step outside and smoke a marijuana joint.
But defense attorneys told jurors his wife was a depressed, self-destructive woman who had in the past contemplated suicide.
“Ashley wasn’t on her mental health medication. She was intoxicated. She had just suffered a miscarriage. She was a pressure cooker,” defense attorney Iris Eytan said in opening statements, reports CBS Denver.
During closing arguments, Eytan told jurors the former Weld County correctional officer loved his wife and argued that she took her own life, pointing to a suicide note she had written months before her death.
But Chief District Attorney Anthea Carrasco argued that did not fit with what she called the key evidence in the case — the amount of blood found in the couple’s bedroom and on Tom Fallis’ shirt.
Jurors heard conflicting testimony about that over the past two weeks.
This week, retired Denver police investigator Jonathyn Priest testified that the amount of blood found on a bedroom wall indicates Tom Fallis was either in contact with his wife or near her when she suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head on Jan. 1, 2012. But last week, Larimer County crime scene investigator Dan Gilliam said he thought the blood found on the wall and clothes as well as the trajectory of the bullet were consistent with a suicide.