Tom Fallis, a former Colorado corrections deputy who was charged with second-degree murder in his wife's 2012 shooting death, was found not guilty today.
The jury deliberated for less than four hours before reaching a verdict. Fallis' defense attorney Iris Eytan wiped away tears and mouthed "thank you" to the jury, as Tom Fallis hugged both of his attorneys, showing little emotion.
Fallis was charged with second-degree murder after being accused of shooting and killing his wife Ashley Fallis on Jan. 1, 2012, after the couple had hosted a New Year's Eve party with family and friends at their home in Evans, Colorado.
Ashley Fallis' family held hands for the verdict, then rushed out of the courtroom looking upset and angry after it was read.
Ashley's death was initially ruled a suicide by five separate law enforcement agencies, but new witness statements surfaced in 2014 and led to a grand jury investigation. Fallis was ultimately indicted for second-degree murder in November 2014.
He was brought back to Colorado from Bloomington, Indiana, where he moved with their three children, to face the accusations. He is now expected to return to Indiana.
During closing arguments, Eytan told jurors that the former Weld County correctional officer loved his wife and argued that she took her own life. But Chief District Attorney Anthea Carrasco argued that did not fit with what she called the key evidence in the case, pointing to the amount of blood found on Tom Fallis’ shirt and in the couple’s bedroom where Ashley's body had been found.
During the trial, Ashley's mother, Jenna Fox, testified that she never accepted the ruling that her daughter committed suicide.
One of the new witness statements was from Nick Glover, who was the Fallises' next door neighbor and was just 15 years old at the time of the shooting. He testified that he heard through an open window Fallis confess to the crime to two people.
"What I heard him saying was, 'Oh my God, what have I done? Oh my God, what have I done?'" Glover said on the stand. "He proceeded to say, 'I shot my wife.'"
When asked how certain he was it was Fallis' voice, Glover testified that he was "100 percent" certain. "You can't hear something like that and forget about it," he said. "I mean, that's going to be embedded in your mind for years to come."
The two people Fallis was allegedly talking to that night were his parents, Jim and Anna Fallis. But when they took the stand they denied that Tom had confessed to them. His parents said they left the New Year's Eve party earlier that evening but came rushing back after getting a phone call and a text from their son saying, "I need you now."
Anna Fallis testified that she comforted her son, who was distraught, and said he never told her he had shot Ashley.
But Ashley's mother gave a very different view of how Fallis treated her daughter at the party.
"At the very end of the night, I think that his behavior towards her was very threatening and very volatile and very scary," Jenna Fox testified.
Fallis told police he was innocent and pleaded not guilty to the charges. During his interrogation with investigators, Fallis screamed, "I didn't shoot my wife."
But Fox didn't believe him and worked with Denver TV station KDVR to take a closer look at the case. One of the key witnesses unearthed in the news station's investigation was a neighbor named Chelsea Arrigo. Kathy Glover, Nick Glover’s mother, testified that Arrigo called her the night of the shooting and asked if she had called the police. Kathy said she told Arrigo she had not called the police, and asked Arrigo why she should have.
“She said, ‘Because your neighbor just shot his wife,’” Kathy Glover testified. “I said, ‘What?’ and she said, ‘I could hear her screaming, “Get off me! Get off me!”’”
But when she took the stand, Arrigo testified that she didn't recall saying that to Kathy.
Still, Ashley's family maintains that law enforcement purposefully omitted information in reports on her death in order to protect "one of their own."
"They never pursued her death as a homicide," Fox testified.
Evans Police publicly deny any wrongdoing and say there was never a cover-up and maintained this case was thoroughly investigated in 2012.
Ashley's mother has a pending civil suit against several law enforcement agencies that handled the investigation into her daughter's death.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.