Jury Finds Doug Grant Guilty in Bizarre Bathtub Drowning

In a letter, Faylene Grant asked her husband to marry his ex-girlfriend.

April 2, 2009, 3:03 PM

GILBERT, Ariz., April 3, 2009— -- After four long months of trial testimony full of twists and turns, including tales about revelations from God, lust, temptation and greed, last week an Arizona jury found Doug Grant, 43, guilty of manslaughter in the 2001 death of his wife, Faylene Grant, who was 35 when she died.

All along, the prosecution's case had been built on premeditation, accusing Doug of implanting visions of death in his devoutly religious wife, then drowning her in their bathtub so that he could be with his ex-girlfriend.

To the defense, Faylene Grant's death was either a suicide or a strange accident.

But for the jury, in the end it all came down to recklessness.

Though Doug Grant was originally indicted on first degree murder, in the last weeks of trial the prosecution argued for and the judge agreed that the jury could consider two lesser offenses -- second degree murder and manslaughter. If the prosecution hadn't won its argument, Doug Grant might not be locked up at the Maricopa County Jail.

"If it was first degree, we definitely would have hung," the jury foreperson, who did not wish to be identified, told ABC News. "Some people felt that he was guilty of first degree [murder] and they felt very strongly about it. Ultimately, it came down to manslaughter -- for not making the 911 call and possibly by him not calling 911. They couldn't get there to save Faylene. Everybody agreed with that."

What the jury seemed to have a tougher time explaining were the strange circumstances surrounding the couples second marriage.

"There were no solid answers at the end of so many paths that we went down," explained the foreperson.

Watch the story tonight on "20/20" at 10 p.m. ET

Doug and Faylene Grant's story began in 1993, and there's little mystery to what drew them together. Both were divorced and had children, both had backgrounds in health and nutrition and both were raised in the Mormon church. Faylene was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and a believer in the doctrine of personal revelation: She believed she could receive guidance directly from God. Faylene's sister, Jody Stratton, described her as "Christ-like."

"There was nothing wrong with that. It's a good thing to be religious," Stratton told ABC News. "It's a good thing to love the heavenly father and to love Christ and to want to be like them."

Doug Grant's calling was of a different nature. During his marriage to Faylene, he built a successful business with nutritional supplements and even consulted with several NBA basketball teams. But his professional success came at the expense of his personal life. Infidelity and time away from home damaged the relationship, and after seven years of marriage, they divorced.

Doug said he soon met and began to fall in love with a young woman working as a receptionist at his company named Hilary Dewitt. But on the verge of proposing, he said he received a startling call from his ex-wife.

Doug told ABC News that his ex-wife said to him, "I was told in the San Diego [Mormon] Temple, from God, to remarry you."

Doug had asked Faylene to reconsider their marriage in the past, but said he never thought she'd take him back. After careful consideration, he said, he broke off his relationship with Hilary and joined his ex-wife in San Diego.

Remarrying in Sin City

On the drive home back to their Gilbert, Ariz., home, the couple made an odd detour and headed to Las Vegas. There, at the chapel of the Ex Calibur hotel, they exchanged wedding vows for the second time.

News of the Vegas wedding was met with skepticism by family members and friends back home. Faylene's sister Cherlene Patterson told her, "He better treat you better." Her other sister, Jody Stratton, asked Faylene several times if she loved Doug.

"She never once in that whole phone call told me she loved him. But she did tell me that ... I felt like I needed to get my family back together," Stratton told ABC News.

Doug's ex-girlfriend, Hilary, said she was stunned. But within days, she said she began receiving calls and letters from Faylene. Soon, the two women were exchanging thoughts about faith and religion in a surprising string of correspondence.

"Faylene was like a sister, a mother, a spiritual adviser, a best friend all wrapped up into one for me," Hilary told ABC News.

But some of Faylene's writings seem to indicate she was preparing for her death that she had received revelation from God that her earth life was coming to an end. In the middle of September 2001, less than two months into her new marriage, she wrote to Hilary, making an astonishing request:

"I want you to be the mother of my children. I want you to teach them how precious each of my Heavenly Father's children is [sic], and remind them that they are not only precious to Heavenly Father but to their mother who has been physically called to serve her mission elsewhere," Faylene wrote in a letter presented during the trial.

Click Here to read Faylene's entire letter to Hilary.

Days later, Hilary said Faylene called her and indicated her death was imminent.

"She knew she was going to die. And that it was going to be really, really soon. And she said she felt that she was supposed to have verbal confirmation from me that I would take care of her family," she recalled.

Faylene and Doug's Second Honeymoon

Faylene never said how or why she felt she was going to die, Hilary said. But these unsettling requests came just as the two had planned a sort of second honeymoon: The couple planned to visit the Mormon historical site in Nauvoo, Ill., a longtime dream of Faylene's.

But within a few days, the couple changed their plans and headed to Utah to visit the Timpanogos Cave National Monument. Soon they were a thousand feet up looking out over the breathtaking canyons. As Faylene admired the view at the edge of a sheer cliff, Doug said she slipped and fell over the edge.

"I ran to where she slipped," he told ABC News. "There's not a scintilla in my body that thought she was alive. If you look off that cliff, you don't see a tree. You just see rocks."

Doug said he ran to the base of the cliff where he said he found Faylene standing, saying she was OK. He took her to a nearby hospital, where she was treated for cuts and bruises and prescribed painkillers.

Doctors at the hospital and rangers at the canyon later disputed Doug's story of the alleged fall, saying that they would have expected to see broken bones or even death resulting from a fall at that height.

But Faylene did not contest her husband's story, nor did she express fear or anxiety after the fall. On the stand at trial, Doug's sister Tammy recalled Faylene saying about Timpanogos, "I should have died up there."

Two days after the fall, Faylene would be dead.

When the couple returned to Gilbert, Doug said Faylene was still in pain from the fall and having difficulty sleeping. He called a physician's assistant he knew, Chad White, who made a house call that night. He said he gave Faylene a shot of Torodol, a pain medication; he also prescribed additional pills, including Ambien so that she could fall asleep.

Then, on the morning of Sept. 27, 2001, Doug said he woke to find his wife, Faylene, drowning in their bathtub.

But instead of calling 911, Doug called Chad White who then called emergency services before he rushed to the home and began CPR.

Doug told ABC News that White, "Started doing CPR and he turned her on her side and a bunch of water came out. And I thought, what did I do wrong?"

Paramedics soon arrived and rushed Faylene to a nearby hospital. Later that afternoon, she was pronounced dead.

On the night she died, Doug said he found another letter, one that Faylene had written to Doug and Hilary, just one day before her fall at Timpanogos.

Click here To read Faylene's letter to her husband.

Three weeks after Faylene's death, Doug Grant married Hilary Dewitt, who eventually adopted the two sons he had with Faylene.

Accident or Murder?

At first, the police viewed Faylene's death as accidental, though the medical examiner labeled it "undetermined." Four years later, Doug Grant was indicted on first degree murder and in mid-November 2008, his trial got under way.

Sgt. Sy Ray of the Gilbert Police Department investigated the case. At first glance, he said, Faylene's letters were troubling, "It's very easy on this case to say, oh, this woman's crazy. What is she thinking? You know, she had to have killed herself. But there's always a reference to Doug on those writings; either 'Doug's visions' or' Doug said this' or' Doug told me that.' Or 'in church Doug had this vision, or he dreams it.'"

During the trial, the prosecution painted Doug as a masterful manipulator who took advantage of his wife and convinced her she would die. But, in the end, the jury foreperson said they focused on the events of the morning of Faylene's drowning.

"What really got people to go over from not knowing to being guilty was the series of phone calls in the morning and why he didn't call 911. She was still alive when she came out of the tub," said the foreperson. "If he had called EMS right off the bat, we don't know that Faylene would have died, it's very possible she would have lived."

Despite Doug Grant's actions that morning, the foreperson said they stuck to the facts and avoided passing judgment on the more sensational parts of the testimony.

"I've made my share of mistakes; I wouldn't want someone judging my character based on my mistakes," the foreperson explained. "We only know a little bit of who Doug Grant is and what he is. We were shown the parts that aren't so nice and I'm sure there are good things there too. I would hate people to think that we made our decision just because Doug married a younger woman, or had affairs, that he made mistakes that we didn't like his character because that's just not true."

Though Faylene's family had hoped for, and backed a first degree murder charge, they said they are just relieved to finally have some closure. Faylene's daughter from her first marriage, Jenna Stradling, said it was difficult to face her stepdad at trial, but nothing compared with losing her mother.

"If I could say something to Doug, I would tell him that not only did you take away my mom, but he took away my best friend. My mom's not going to be at my wedding. My mom hasn't been able to meet my first boyfriend. She's never going to come back. She's never going to be here," Jenna said.

Her brother, Austin Stradling, is trying to find peace, even though he, too, believes Doug Grant murdered his mother.

"My mom was extremely forgiving," Austin said. "But for some reason, I have ... even though I do know in my heart that he did do it, for some reason my mom left something behind with me to forgive him. And to not go crazy. And to take the higher road."

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