SAN DIEGO — The preliminary hearing for Larry Millette, husband of missing Chula Vista mother Maya “May” Millete, began in a downtown San Diego courtroom Wednesday, marking the first time testimonies from witnesses have been made public in the case.

Larry, 41, is accused of murdering Maya, who was 39 when she went missing two years ago. The mother of three was last seen on Jan. 7, 2021 near her home in the 2400 block of Paseo Los Gatos. Two days later, her sister reported Maya as missing.

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Larry appeared in the courtroom Wednesday wearing a mask and headphones. Judge Dwayne Moring allowed cameras and live streaming inside.

The first witness to take the stand was Desteny Johnson, who said she spoke to Maya the day she disappeared. Johnson works for Broaden Law, a family law firm in Chula Vista. Johnson testified that she answered the phone at the law firm when Maya called around 1:45 p.m. on Jan. 7 to begin the process in seeking a divorce from Larry.

Johnson said the phone call lasted about 15 to 20 minutes and was “unusual” and unlike the other hundreds of phone calls she had taken in that role. She said Maya had stated on the phone that she could not come into the office for an appointment and requested a phone appointment instead, because she was concerned she would be followed and Larry would find out she was in contact with a divorce attorney, and was nervous about the reaction she would receive from Larry if he found out. Johnson said she wanted to set up a meeting within 24 hours, because she was concerned for Maya’s safety, but Johnson said Maya insisted she wait to talk with an attorney until after the weekend, as she was expecting to go to Big Bear with her family to celebrate her daughter’s birthday.

Johnson said she set up an appointment for Maya to speak with an attorney over the phone on Jan. 12. Johnson said she sent an email to Maya after their phone call with a client intake form. She said Maya filled out the form and sent the information back within an hour. Johnson said her boss directed her to send an email to Maya on Jan. 10, because there was concern about Maya, and she said no one responded.

Johnson said that the following week after their initial phone call, her boss directed her to call Chula Vista Police Department to let them know they had spoken with Maya on Jan. 7.

The second witness called was David Garber, a forensic specialist with Chula Vista Police Department. Garber photographed evidence while serving a search warrant on Jan. 23 at the Millette home. The photographs showed several images of their home, both inside and outside, and their cars. The photos showed the Millete family’s Christmas tree up in their home, along with a piano. The photos also showed a safe where Garber said he recovered several firearms and digital storage devices. He also testified that he found blood in the bathroom attached to the primary bedroom, but no further investigation into the blood was provided.

Garber said when he took photographs, he saw damage to the door in the main bedroom. He also said there were patches of the wall in the main bathroom upstairs that were unpainted, as if they has been patched.

Prior to calling the first witness, Judge Moring submitted into evidence several items that are expected to be brought up and displayed throughout the hearing in regards to Maya’s state of mind at the time of her disappearance, which include text messages between family members discussing a divorce from Larry, the safety of her and her children, Larry allegedly tracking Maya, alleged inappropriate relationships and pseudo-journal entries Maya posted on Instagram, and sent to herself through email.

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Day one of the hearing recessed at 4 p.m. and is expected to begin again at 9 a.m. Thursday.

The preliminary hearing is not a jury trial, but works as a mini-trial, without a jury, where counsel can call witnesses, display evidence and cross-examine witnesses. Larry’s future is in the hands of Judge Moring. At the end of the preliminary hearing, the judge can rule that there is enough evidence to believe Larry committed a crime and a trial will be scheduled, or, on the other hand, the judge can rule the evidence does not establish probable cause Larry committed a crime and the judge has the ability to dismiss charges.