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tv   2020  ABC  December 21, 2018 10:01pm-11:00pm PST

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more scent plus oxi boost and febreze in every gain fling. save on appliances. save on beauty. stores open til 10 pm, christmas eve. only at target. on new year's eve, the we continue now with more of "20/20." countdown to a gunshot. >> oh, my wife just shot herself in the head. >> reporter: for three weeks, this quaint mexican cafe across the street from the courthouse >> but tonight on "20/20," the game-changing question. played host to both sides -- did a young mother kill herself ashley falliss' family and the or was she killed? >> i didn't shoot my wife. >> how did happy couple dancing defense -- during breaks in the trial. end up with that same wife dead but it wasn't the hot sauce making tom fallis sweat, as he waited for the jury's verdict. in her bedroom just after he barely had time to finish his midnight. rice and beans. >> two people went into that >> the jury only deliberated room. one person left. three and a half hours, after weeks of testimony. >> kelsey, no, you're not that is a swift verdict. leaving me. >> reporter: and sometimes >> inside this stunning tape. that's a good sign for the prosecution. >> ladies and gentlemen, the paramedics trying to revive her. jury has reached a verdict. >> reporter: judge thomas quammen read the jury's the emt taking us through that sudden decision to a packed courthouse. tiny bedroom.
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>> blosive video. >> you're accusing me of killing >> we, the jury, find the my wife and i'm not supposed to defendant thomas fallis be upset. >> and the shocking drama. >> whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, not guilty of murder in the whoa, they're going second degree and all lesser included offenses. >> reporter: while tom fallis hugs his lead attorney, his defense team wipes away tears and mouths a thank you to the men and women of the jury as they are led out of the courtroom. pe verdict in a half an hour? >> you have to wonder whether the prosecutors felt pressured >> what's the truth? to bring the case. a shocking suicide? >> ashley's own words. even the crime scene evidence i just can't take this life anymore. was at best conflicting. most people would have been >> or this, what a teenage shocked if there had been a conviction. >> reporter: and in the wake of neighbor saying he heard. that verdict, a challenged police force has had to look itself in the mirror and ask its >> i heard him say, oh, my gosh, what have i done. own questions about how they handled the case. so you thought it was a >> i'm amy robach. homicide? >> i did. >> reporter: and now? >>he holiday didn't include 0 >> now i believe it's a suicide. >> reporter: what changed for you? >> the forensic evidence, the forensic analysis, all the information gleaned by the investigating party. resolutions but instead once i was filled in on all of that, much later, i was very suspicions of murder. here's ryan smith. comfortable with agreeing that it's a suicide.
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>> reporter: drive north out of >> reporter: four years denver on this two-lane blacktop after that new year's eve party called u.s. 85. ended in tragedy, tom fallis is there sits the tiny town of evans, where locals joke the a free man. manure odor wafting from the nearby fields is no rocky and ashley's death, it stands as mountain high. it was, a suicide. something else smells strong her mother, jenna, and her father, joel, find that hard to here at the house where tom and accept. what did you think when you heard that verdict? >> shock. ashley fallis live. complete shock. three hours. and it's not just the aroma of they had lunch, picked a foreman. fine wine and other intoxicants i don't think they went through any of the evidence. being passed around freely on new year's eve. people who know ashley know that she would never have killed perhaps the scent of a relationship turning sour. herself. >> reporter: joel, three weeks >> happy new year! ago you held up a sign that said >> reporter: ashley and tom are a young married couple, hosting justice for ashley. >> yes. >> reporter: do you believe you got justice for ashley? >> no. a party for friends and family. they live in a subdivision no. called grapevine hollow. each street named for a famous wine, though ironically, not a vineyard in sight. i am -- i am heartbroken on their house is on zinfandel, a vino with lots of alcohol and a lasting aftertaste. that, um, part of what i know to fitting, since when the alcohol be the truth. stops flowing on zinfandel tonight, no one will ever ashley had a zeal for life. forget. ashley loved life. i will always remember her as
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had you ever seen a case like this before? >> something like this? the child, the daughter i've the ashley fallis case? always known and loved. no, this has been an extremely >> ashley, being remembered by her parents tonight. high-profile case. >> reporter: james redmond has y ultimately did not bring covered the story for the "greeley tribune." but there are really two stories. a wrongful death lawsuit against how do people in the community tom fallis. feel about this case? and now the statute of limitations has passed. is it, some are on one side, and that's our program. others are on the other side? i'm amy robach. >> i'm david muir, from all of >> people here in greeley or in us here at "20/20" and abc news, thanks for watching. good night. evans, it's been a pretty vehement divide. people feel strongly one way or another. >> reporter: both versions begin at that party. >> i met tom at the door. he gave me a hug. i hugged him back. never did that before with him that was fine by me. >> reporter: john schmitzer, ashley's uncle, was there that night. along with his wife peggy. >> it was just a casual party at the they decided to have. >> reporter: and of course, ashley's mother, jenna fox and father joel raguindin. >> she was just vivacious and fun. >> she always made people laugh. made me laugh, made her mother breaking news, overturned laugh. fuel tanker is causing big
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>> reporter: the whole idea of this party was to celebrate how good things were going. problems. it was a new year. they were happy. they were at a point when things were going well for them. >> reporter: seemingly, the end of a tough few years. when ashley met tom on a dating site back in 2007, she was divorced. a single mother of two young girls. >> tom brought something extra to ashley's life. it was almost like he was a lifeline for her, right? >> tom and ashley, some of their friends were jealous of their relationship. and how affectionate they could be. >> reporter: it was a whirlwind. in no time, ashley was pregnant with their son blake. a year later, ashley and tom were married. >> i wasn't real easy around him. he didn't seem real friendly. he was ashley's spouse. so you show him respect because that's who she's chosen. >> reporter: but ashley's family felt tom was too controlling. >> you had to walk on eggshells around him, because you just didn't know what would touch him
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off. >> reporter: tom eventually adopts ashley's girls. he takes a job as a corrections officer working in the local jail. she's a respiratory therapist, but soon enough, life throws this budding colorado family its first curve. blake is diagnosed with hydrocephalus, commonly referred to as water on the brain. he needs 11 surgeries and constant monitoring. it's understandably putting pressure on the marriage. it puts a strain on the family. puts a strain on the relationship. it had to be financially taxing. >> in addition to the cost of the surgeries alone, i know at one point ashley was fired from her job. >> reporter: the tension leads to serious anxiety. she begins seeing a psychiatrist who put her on medications like seroquel and clonazepam. >> she did having an zity from all the pressures in her life, including tom. remember, tom is one of those
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pressures. let's not blame all of this on hydrocephalus. it's tom also putting the pressure on her. i can't blame her for being on anti anxiety drugs. >> it was a real rough patch in their marriage. so rough, apparently, tom discovered ashley has even had an extramarital affair. there's talk of divorce. but by the fall of 2011, they are still together. the desperate former respiratory therapist tries to breathe some life into things. the couple takes a cross-country trip to washington, d.c., where she testifies before congress about her family's experience with hydrocephalus. were you proud of her at that point? >> oh, yeah. >> ashley is not backing down on a challenge. that's who she was. >> reporter: tom is proud too. back home, ashley finds a new job and the couple seems to be healing. and then an apparent christmas miracle. ashley believes she's pregnant and takes a home pregnancy test. >> her tubes had been tied after her son. >> reporter: so, totally unplanned, not expected. did they want to have children?
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>> they were extremely excited about it. when they got the news. >> reporter: that's why they were so ready to celebrate at that new year's eve party. but just hours before the guests arrive, a blow. ashley says she's bleeding. she believes she's suffered a miscarriage. >> this wasn't the first miscarriage. or suspected miscarriage. she was a tough cookie. >> i think tom was far more devastated. >> devastated. -- affected by it than ashley was. >> reporter: whatever she is thinking, ashley is ready to have a good time. she has a few drinks. and jello shots. >> so sweet. ♪ ♪ flying away >> reporter: around 11:00, tom and ashley, seemingly feeling no vorite song, "18th floor their balcony," by blue october.
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but just an hour later everything changes. right around midnight, as the new year dawns. marijuana joins the party and tom is upset about it. >> this is like, "whoa. what just happened here?" i mean, we went from a really fun party to tom's throwing a fit. >> it became clear to tom that ashley had gotten a marijuana joint from her uncle and that she wanted to go outside and smoke it. he was angry about that. upset about it. >> it wasn't like she was going to do heroin. it wasn't like she was going outside to drop acid. so i'm looking at him with a little bit of disbelief, going, "seriously? seriously, this is why you're so mad?" >> that's what set him off. that's what he threw his fit about. she was partying and having a good time and wanted to smoke some pot. he was like, nope, that's not going to happen. >> reporter: it's clear it's time for everyone to leave, but as they depart no one had a clue what was about to happen. >> married couples have fights every day.
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but it's not every day the argument ends with someone dead on the floor. >> reporter: in the bedroom, tom and ashley are alone. arguing. on the surface it's about the marijuana, but there's all that built-up tension underneath. and suddenly, without warning -- [ gunfire ] >> 911, what's the address of your emergency? >> reporter: a frantic call to 911. >> my wife just shot herself in the head! please help me! >> reporter: tom screaming for help. >> ashley, no! ashley, no! >> reporter: it's a gunshot wound to the head. he tells them it was suicide. >> you're not leaving me! you're not leaving me! >> reporter: you're watching actual video recorded by an officer's body cam as police and paramedics rush to the scene. tom is removed from the crowded room as they work on ashley in the narrow space between the bed
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and the wall. >> it was a very dynamic, fluid scene. there was a lot of people there. her family had returned to the scene. there was some yelling and screaming going on in the front yard between tom fallis and family members. >> reporter: tom is a powder keg of emotion, recorded hurling blame at ashley's family outside. >> you guys wanted to [ bleep ] get her high! >> reporter: meantime, the medics are lifting ashley off the floor, rushing her to the hospital. doctors desperate to save her life. but tom isn't with her. he is in here, in a police interrogation room. >> i didn't shoot my wife. i wasn't even by her. >> reporter: when we come back -- do the police think it's all an act? ashley's mother sure does. do you feel like tom got away with murder? >> oh, yeah. absolutely. >> reporter: stay with us.
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we continue now with more of "20/20." >> reporter: 2012 is not even an hour old, and the small evans, colorado, police department is already dealing with its first violent death of the year. do you see a lot of violent crimes in this area? >> we probably average one or less homicides a year. and unfortunately a number of suicides. they're not uncommon. >> reporter: evans police chief rick brandt, whose department responds. you're one of the first responders, correct? >> correct. >> reporter: sergeant dan ranous shows me what the scene was like.
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>> ashley fallis was laying on the north side of the bed. she was not breathing, but her throat muscles were moving, indicating she was trying to breathe, but the obvious issue was the trauma to her head. >> reporter: what does the room look like from what you remember? >> i distinctly remember the blood spatter on this north wall. i also remember seeing the bullet hole in this east wall. >> reporter: is there anything on the ground? >> there are two pictures on the ground over here, and i distinctly recall the tv was playing the times square new year's eve celebration. >> reporter: a woman shot with only her spouse in the room is always cause for suspicion. >> tom, my name is rita. i don't know if i ever met you before. >> reporter: tom fallis has volunteered to come to the police station to answer questions from detective rita wolfe. >> he's the only witness to a gunshot wound situation. so we want to hear what he has to say. >> what's your wife's name? >> ashley. [ cries ] i want to see her. i want her to be okay. >> reporter: it's emotional. tom is distraught.
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still wearing the blood-stained t-shirt. and at this moment, apparently still hoping ashley will survive. as a video camera records it all. >> the video for this runs a couple of hours. and there's a lot of emotion from tom. >> reporter: are you suspicious of him at that time? >> i would say he was under suspicion at that time. you want to pin somebody down to a story and then you want to keep going over the story to see if it changes. >> reporter: tom's story starts with the trauma before that new year's eve party. >> so she was kind of down today. >> reporter: ashley, devastated when she believes she's suffered a miscarriage. >> we just lost, could've lost -- or had our third miscarriage. do you know how depressing that is for a woman? >> reporter: especially for ashley, he says. >> all day she hadit. >> reporter: knowing how unlikely another pregnancy would be since she had her tubes tied after her son blake was born, which tom says was her mother, jenna's idea, just one source of
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lingering resentment between them. >> this was no brady bunch, right? fallis didn't get along with ashley's family. there's just no two ways about it. >> reporter: still, he tells detective wolfe, ashley was holding up okay most of the night. >> we danced to our song just an hour and a half before this. >> so sweet. >> reporter: but remember when ashley's uncle asked her to smoke marijuana? that is when tom says everything went south. >> she's wanting to do it because she's so down because she's just had either a false positive or a miscarriage. >> reporter: that's when he admits he flew off the handle. yelling at ashley's family as he stomps upstairs to the bedroom. >> i turned around and made a comment, i was like -- she doesn't need to get [ bleep ] high. she doesn't need to take your advice, just like she didn't need to [ bleep ] have her tubes tied. i walked into our room. that was the only negative thing that was said the whole night. >> reporter: now, he says, he goes into the walk-in closet to change his clothes.
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>> i was standing right there. >> reporter: at one point he even sketches out where he was as ashley enters. >> she's going, i'll [ bleep ] do what i want and i said, fine. do whatever you want. i was pissed. i probably said, do whatever the [ bleep ] you want. >> reporter: he says they're on opposite sides of the bed in the tiny room. tom, still lashing out at her from inside that closet. >> i did swear at her. i did tell her go [ bleep ] do whatever the [ bleep ] you want of that bed.says, he can't real her. but he can hear her cocking a gun. >> she has a 9-millimeter taurus and she keeps it under her mattress. >> reporter: and he says, suddenly, without any warning whatsoever. >> i looked out and i was like, what are you doing? and before i even had a chance
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to finish my sentence or close the door, there was smoke. i heard it. and it was just smoke. >> reporter: tom says he tried to staunch the blood coming from his wife's head, while he called 911. >> so you're saying, no fighting at all. that she for some reason just takes a gun out and shoots herself for some unknown reason. >> i already told you what happened. >> that wound on the back of her head isn't where she could do it herself, tom. it is not. >> oh, [ bleep ] >> it is not. >> [ bleep ]. [ bleep ]. [ bleep ]. >> if you get upset like this -- is this what you do -- >> you're accusing me of killing my wife. i'm not supposed to get upset? that doesn't make sense. >> reporter: and that's when detective wolfe reveals officers have already learned something incriminating from a next-door neighbor. >> there was somebody awake. and they actually heard your argument and your conversation between you and your wife. >> really? what conversation was that? >> she's telling you, get off of me. get off of me. and you're saying, don't leave me. don't leave me. >> i didn't say that! >> see, that's hard for me to
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believe. >> reporter: he denies anything more than a verbal battle. but the more she presses, the more heated it gets. >> i didn't shoot my wife! >> tell me what happened then. tell me what happened. >> i just told you. >> why do you have those scratches on your body? >> reporter: she's referring to these. what look like red abrasions on tom's chest. but he insists he shaved there as a surprise for ashley. and any marks they see came from his own scratching. because, he says, it's itchy. >> okay. see this? this is a shaved chest. do you know how bad this hurt and itches? so when i'm sitting there, i do this all freaking day. >> i mean, really? i shaved my chest for the first time in my life today? and got scratches all over myself? >> reporter: but the detective is skeptical. >> there's scratchings on you
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that you need to explain. >> reporter: and with the tension mounting -- >> tell me what's going on with my wife. please. >> reporter: the detective breaks the news. >> i have to let you know, your wife did not make it. your wife did not make it. >> she was just breathing. she was breathing when i was holding her. she was breathing. they told me she was breathing when she left the house. i didn't shoot my wife. i wasn't even by her! >> reporter: tom is sticking to his story. i didn't do this! oh, my god. i'm telling you right now. >> reporter: after about two hours, the detective gives him a compassionate touch. and with still no admission of guilt, she has no reason to hold him. tom is free to go. you let him go. why? >> if nothing else, it didn't appear to be a solid or a clear homicide. and we knew we had a lot of work to do. >> everybody that i talked to said, i'm at a loss for words.
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>>epome rafi ds later as ashley is laid to rest. and so, it seemed, was the case, that is, until two years later. >> a fox 31 denver investigation is now leading to a brand-new police probe. >> reporter: when someone new comes forward on this news cast. someone no one ever expected. when we return. ancestrydna was able to tell me where my father's family came from in columbia. they pinpointed the columbian and ecuador region and then there's a whole new andean region. that was incredibly exciting because i really didn't know that. it just brings it home how deep my roots are and it connects me to them, and to their spirit, and to their history. this holiday, give the gift that's connected millions to a deeper family story. order your kit at this week at target, save on hundreds of ♪ minute gifts
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we continue now with more of "20/20." >> reporter: two years have passed. the ashley fallis case is officially a suicide. closed. that house on zinfandel, empty. but for ashley's mother jenna, every day is still new year's day. she is fighting on. >> she was like a dog with a bone. she would not let it go. when police would not cooperate with the mother, jenna fox, she found somebody that would, a reporter. >> for over a year, we've been investigating the death of ashley fallis. >> reporter: then finally, more than two years after ashley's death, in the spring of 2014, this report on a local fox
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station reared in like a denver bronco. shocking new information and one damning account. >> it was right here. >> reporter: teenager and next-door neighbor nick glover, at home playing video games with a friend on that fateful night, who was peering out of his window, overhearing the commotion outside of the fallis house. his earth-shattering new account -- >> i remember i heard him distinctly say, "i shot her." >> reporter: he says he heard fallis confess. so why didn't the police know this two years earlier? well, according to glover, they did. the teen claims he told detective mike yates about it on the night of the incident. but somehow, it never ended up in yates' report. do you think in any way your department mishandled this case? >> no. >> reporter: still, in the event that it was a case of keystone cops -- or worse, a cover-up -- evans police chief brandt orders the investigation reopened. >> within the last hour, evans police announced they are reopening the investigation. >> reporter: and not only was
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there to be a new investigation, it would be with fresh eyes. the nearby ft. collins police would handle the case, and loveland police would examine how the original police work was handled. >> the grand jury met for three days. >> being indicted by a grand jury. >> reporter: seven months later, a grand jury hears the new evidence, and tom fallis is indicted for murder. >> authorities arrested the former weld county deputy earlier this week. >> reporter: but where is tom fallis? the house they lived in, sold. eventually, police tracked him down in indiana. he'd moved there with the kids, he says, to be near his sister. >> tom fallis arrested in indiana. >> reporter: he is arrested in november of 2014, more than four years after the shooting -- >> all rise. >> reporter: -- tom fallis is in this courtroom, on trial for second-degree murder. >> this whole trial is essentially going to come down to one question. does the jury believe ashley shot herself? or does the jury believe tom
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fallis murdered his wife? >> reporter: which is the truth? >> the prosecution does not have an easy case here, because they have this enormous legal burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. >> reporter: for starters, the jury hears plenty about tom's behavior that night. >> it started to really change after tom blew up and started cussing and throwing a fit. >> reporter: ashley's mother jenna, who's been waiting an eternity for a chance to testify against tom, describes a man unhinged and out of control before the shooting. >> he told me he [ bleep ] hated us all and wished we would all die. >> the heart of the prosecution's case is that tom is angry and enraged before this happens. that's a critical part of the case. >> reporter: then it's star witness nick glover's turn on the stand, the young man from that tv report testifying about a midnight confession after the shooting. >> i heard him saying, "oh, my god, what have i done? oh, my god, what have i done?" he proceeded to say, "i shot my wife." you can't hear something like that and forget about it. i mean, that's going to be
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embedded in your mind for years to come. >> reporter: the prosecution's case is building. nick's mother kathy testifies about a critical phone call she says she got that night from chelsea arrigo, a family friend who was visiting her boyfriend nearby. kathy claims arrigo told her she heard a struggle between tom and ashley. >> she said, "because your neighbor just shot his wife." and i said, "what?" she said, "i could hear her screaming, get off me, get off me." >> reporter: and then there's this -- a pivotal witness. >> he said, you know, "go watch that guy in the driveway." >> reporter: chris graves, a former weld county sheriff's deputy on the scene to assist the night of the shooting. >> i heard him screaming, "i can't believe i shot her." and, "i can't believe she's dead." >> reporter: but if these earwitness accounts aren't strong enough, the prosecution has even more -- a criminalist with a new theory. >> if she were to shoot herself -- bang. >> reporter: jonathyn priest, a former denver police officer who now does professional crime
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scene reconstruction. in a model bedroom built in the courtroom -- >> i don't have a lot of blood here. >> reporter: -- he tells the jury after looking at pictures of the evidence, he has serious concerns about the amount of blood on the carpet, the position of ashley's body, and the pattern of blood spatter on the bedroom wall. >> so i have a lot of problems with this being that suicide, or that unassisted suicide. >> reporter: at one point, this wasn't looking good for tom fallis, was it? >> there's been a lot of stuff that paints tom as this angry, volatile husband, as someone who was angry at ashley that night, who was fighting with her. >> reporter: but what if everything the jury has heard so far is wrong? >> i have to pretend to be happy. >> reporter: would a note ashley left behind solve the mystery? >> i just can't take this life any longer. >> was she a high risk to commit suicide on that date?eporter: s.
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♪ >> reporter: when the ball dropped, ushering in 2012, no one knew it would be dick clark's last "rockin' eve." nor did anyone know it would be ashley fallis' last one, too. >> ashley fallis, who mysteriously died after a family get-together. >> the 28-year-old found shot at her home in 2012. >> reporter: now, during a trial more than four years in the making. >> he's as angry as you can imagine, and it's all directed at her. >> reporter: her husband, tom fallis stands accused of her murder. and the prosecution
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is painting a pretty ugly picture. >> his chest is puffed up. his fists are clenched. he's red. he's agitated. >> reporter: but their case is about to crumble. >> tom fallis did not kill his wife. >> reporter: the defense tells the jury exactly what tom said from the moment he first called 911. ashley shot herself. >> please help me! please help me! >> reporter: the jurors hear that entire 911 call. some are in tears as they listen to the couple's screaming children that night. >> mommy! >> reporter: but tom is obviously distraught himself. and as much as the courtroom had been told he was in a rage the night ashley died, tom's parents, his father, jim, his mother, anna, say it was completely different. they were at the house too that night. >> when you talked to tom on the phone at that time, he was hysterical. >> yes. >> he was crying. >> yes. >> and he said he needed you to come back. >> yes. >> because ashley shot himself.
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>> yes. >> did you ever hear him say, "i shot her "? >> never. >> did you ever hear tom confess at that time to shooting ashley? >> never. >> reporter: and remember jenna fox, ashley's mother, who was as vocal as any witness about her suspicions that tom shot her daughter? on cross-examination, defense attorney dru nielsen reveals some deep, troubling family history. >> your mother committed suicide? >> she did. >> and your brother committed suicide? >> he did. >> reporter: both relatives coincidentally ending their life with a gun. and it's that propensity for suicide that tom fallis' defense lawyers plan a field day around, lobbing a grenade into the proceedings, telling the jury ashley had penned her own suicide note months before. >> "i just can't take this life any longer." ashley's own words proved that she committed suicide. >> reporter: and another shoe is
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about to drop. >> do you solemnly swear -- >> reporter: this man, dr. michael allen, an international expert on suicide, says she gave off many red flags. >> my opinion is that she had many risk factors and warning signs. >> do you believe that ashley fallis was a high risk to commit suicide on january 1, 2012? >> yes. >> reporter: and remember, this trial might never be happening if not for the claims that tom, himself, supposedly confessed. suddenly, that narrative is being debunked, too. detective mike yates interviewed that teenage eyewitness, nick glover, who came forward two years later, claiming he told yates about it that night. >> did nick glover ever tell you he heard tom fallis say, "i shot my wife "? >> no. >> are you certain nick glover didn't say that? >> i am certain. >> reporter: another disaster for the prosecution. former deputy chris graves' testimony that he heard
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tom fallis confess to killing his wife. but the defense questions why he waited two years to report this >> yes. >> terminated for lack of candor, correct? >> yes. >> terminated for lack of honesty? >> yes. >> reporter: and the other officers on the scene say they never heard any such thing. >> at any point throughout this investigation, did you hear mr. fallis indicate that he shot his wife? >> no. >> no, ma'am. >> no, ma'am. >> reporter: if you think things couldn't get worse, just listen to crime scene investigator dan gilliam. he's a witness for the prosecution, but after more than 400 hours in a lab endlessly re-creating the shooting, he agrees with the defense, that this was no murder. >> you believe what occurred was a suicide? his wife shot herself in the head, correct? >> correct. about like that. >> reporter: the defen
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residue, or gsr, on their hands. >> ashley fallis had gsr on both of her hands. clap, shoot. tom fallis didn't have any gsr on his hands. >> reporter: but still ahead -- just as the case is about to close, remember ashley's affair? her former lover is about to take the stand. could he be a motive for murder? >> you had an extramarital affair with ashley fallis? >> yes. >> and you knew that tom fallis knew about that, right? >> yes. >> reporter: stay with us. ohhhh, no, here it comes (crying in background) (breathing noises) are you crying? no man. i'm good. (on screen) i'd like to go someplace where nobody knows me (crying noises in background) dude shut up. (crying noises in background) (crying noises)
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we continue now with more of "20/20." >> reporter: in greeley, colorado, just as in every case, in every courtroom in our system of justice, comes this final, electrifying moment between crime and punishment. >> ms. carrasco, you may make your closing arguments. >> thank you. >> reporter: closing arguments. arguing, just like the people of
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this community have been doing all these years, ever since ashley fallis died of a gunshot wound in her own bedroom, her children just down the hall. 31 days have passed since ashley fallis died in the early morning hours of january 1, 2012. and after 13 days' worth of testimony from over 40 witnesses, the responsibility in this case is yours. >> reporter: but now, tom fallis' freedom is on the line. the prosecutor gets the first crack. chief deputy district attorney anthea carrasco, projecting a smiling photo of ashley fallis and her son, the youngest of her three children. >> the most important number in this case is 12. and that's the 12 of you. >> reporter: the prosecutor is measured. methodical. merciless. >> he's in a rage. >> reporter: her incriminating
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evidence aimed as precisely as knives in a carnival act. showing the jury bloody clothing. that crucial blood pattern. >> you've got blood in this area. >> reporter: the prosecutor even going down on her knees several times, demonstrating the impossibility, in her view, of ashley shooting herself. >> she basically would have had to have been on the ground, knees pointing at the nightstand, turned this way to look at him across the bed. what's the problem with that? that's not what he said. that's not at all what he said. >> reporter: she urges jurors to question, "why so much blood on tom's shirt?" >> what is his explanation as to how you get so much blood on those shirts? what he demonstrated for you on the ground is essentially the defendant would have to be on his knees, hovering over her, essentially with his whole upper body over her head. but what's the problem with that? nobody said that. we are asking that you go back in that jury room, that you give this case the attention it deserves, and that you return the verdict that justice demands. >> reporter: then, it's defense
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attorney iris eytan's turn. she begins the way she started three weeks earlier, standing behind her client, tom fallis, with her hands on his shoulders. >> he is innocent. he is not guilty. he did not do this. he loved his wife. >> that humanizes fallis. that shows that she's not afraid of him. i think it very likely had an impact on the jury. >> reporter: the day before, any wild speculation that tom fallis would testify and tell the jury directly in his own words what happened, was laid to rest with a quiet pro forma exchange with the judge. >> so have you made a decision? >> i have. >> and what is your decision? >> i will not testify. >> reporter: the defense may have felt they did enough damage to the state's case, not least with an 11th-hour witness on the 11th day of the trial. >> we'd like to call jedidiah pepping.
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>> reporter: they dig through the dirty laundry of ashley fallis. her infidelity just six months before she died, with an old high school flame, jed pepping. >> did you reignite a relationship with her? >> yes. >> reporter: the defense, attempting to show ashley was capable of shooting herself. when her pistol wasn't under the mattress, it was in her purse. >> were you aware of ashley fallis carrying a loaded gun in her purse? >> yes. >> did ashley fallis seem comfortable with the firearm? >> yes. >> reporter: and now, tom's attorney crow-barring the state's case apart. >> we don't have to prove that ashley fallis committed suicide. they have to prove that he had her gun beyond a reasonable doubt, held the gun to her head, beyond a reasonable doubt, and pulled the trigger beyond a reasonable doubt.alliid
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and tom fallis is the victim of a false accusation. >> reporter: but the last word in the case, as belongs to the prosecution. >> they get to attack and destroy everything the defense just said. and then the jury goes out of the room. and the defense is like -- what -- but -- and they don't get to say anything back. it's an extremely powerful weapon for the state. >> reporter: deputy district attorney ben whitney tells jurors, use your common sense, life experience, go with your gut. >> your gut has got to tell you that ashley fallis, a 28-year-old mother of three, did not go in four minutes from saying good-bye to her family, to walking into her room and picking up a gun and putting it to her head and pulling the trigger. it did not happen. >> reporter: the judge gives final instructions, and before it's even time to break for lunch, the jury is out to deliberate.
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before the first sign of darkness, the jury sends word. they're ready to return. we got word right as we were wrapping up our interview with nancy grace. >> they've got a verdict! they have a verdict. i'm ray and i quit smoking with chantix. smoking. it dictates your day. i didn't like something having control over me. i wanted to stop. the thing is i didn't know how. chantix, along with support, helps you quit smoking. chantix reduced my urge to smoke to the point that i could quit. when you try to quit smoking, with or without chantix,
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