GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – Jurors in the Tom Fallis murder trial heard more testimony about how officers handled the crime scene on Tuesday.
Fallis, a former Weld County corrections officer, is accused of murdering his 28-year-old wife after a New Year’s Eve party in 2012. Ashley Fallis’ death was first ruled a suicide, but the case was reopened two years later.
Tuesday was the 10th day of testimony and the first half of the morning brought key testimony from former Evans officer Michael Yates who is familiar with the case. When the case was reopened in 2014 Yates was accused of altering and withholding witness statements but later was cleared due to lack of evidence.
Yates took the stand where the prosecution used his investigation of Ashley’s death against him. They pointed out how little sleep he had that night and how he was just a part-time investigator and spent the most time criticizing the final report he turned in.
Yates says he finalized the report using only his handwritten notes, and then as common practice by Evans police, he said shredded those notes. That was crucial because when interviewing a neighbor who claims to have heard Tom Fallis confess to shooting his wife, Yates says he remembers that neighbor saying Ashley shot herself, and that’s what was in his final report.
The defense pointed out that Yates was cleared of any wrongdoing after multiple independent investigations and said that he was confident in the way he conducted interviews and the notes he took.
Tuesday’s testimony revealed officers stopped interviewing potential witnesses just two days after Ashley’s death and chose not to record most of the interviews they did conduct. About a month later police ruled the case a suicide.
Nine days after Ashley’s death, Evans Police Cmdr. Jason Phipps sent evidence to an investigator. He wanted tests to be run on the gun found inside the Fallis’ bedroom.
Prosecutor Benjamin Whitney: Did you ask for the gun to be fingerprinted?
Phipps: No I did not.
Whitney: Did you ask for DNA testing to be done on the gun?
Whitney: Why not?
Phipps: I, I don’t know.
Investigators also never tested clippings from Ashley’s fingernails. There were scratches on Tom Fallis’ body, but whether they came from a struggle with Ashley can’t be proven. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation needed special permission to test her fingernails and it would have used up the whole sample. Phipps testified he never made that request.
Ashley’s family is moving forward with a civil suit against the Evans Police Department.
While the prosecution still has a long list of witnesses they could call, the defense says it’s possible deliberations could start as early as Friday.