CHULA VISTA — The Chula Vista man accused of murdering his wife, May “Maya” Millete, appeared in court again on Tuesday to provide an update on issues with funding his defense that prompted a six-month delay earlier this year.
During a hearing in July, Larry Millete, 41, asked a judge to push the start of his trial date to early next year due to issues securing costs to pay for his defense attorney, Bonita Martinez.
The judge presiding over his case, Enrique Camarena Jr., approved the move to give him time to sort out the issue with his counsel and rescheduled the trial date to Jan. 16, 2024.
On Tuesday, however, Camarena relieved Martinez as Millete’s retained attorney at a follow-up hearing and assigned new private counsel to his case at his request.
To allow time for the lawyers to prepare, the judge also pushed the trial back again by over six months, setting its new start date on Aug. 26, 2024.
“This case started almost two years ago today, it needs to go to trial,” Camarena said at Tuesday’s hearing. “If it is going to trial, we need to get ready and conclude your case as soon as possible.”
Millete was arrested at his home in October 2021 — nine months after Maya, then 39-years-old, was reported missing by her sister. He pleaded not guilty to all charges and was deemed eligible to stand trial after a 10-day preliminary hearing in January.
Maya’s sister, Maricris Drouaillet, told FOX 5 that she is disappointed by the delay after the court’s decision Tuesday.
“Our family has been in this nightmare for almost three years, so it’s really heartbreaking for me,” Drouaillet said, “especially for my mom and my dad not knowing anything yet.”
With his original counsel relieved, Millete requested the judge appoint Liann Sabatine and Colby Ryan from the Virtus Law Group, LLP to represent him. Camarena approved it, but warned him that further changes to his counsel due to financial issues can not be made.
“I don’t intend to let Ms. Sabatini off the case if you don’t pay her, so that is where we are at, OK?” he told Millete during Tuesday’s hearing. “You’ve made arraignments. They are with them; they are happy about it. If they are happy, I’m happy.”
When asked by FOX 5 if they would be prepared for the trial by August, the new attorneys declined to comment.
Gretchen von Helms, a criminal defense attorney not related to the Millete case, explained that murder trials are usually pushed back a year — even two years — because of changes to defense counsel that require the attorneys to essentially start all over.
“They have to do investigation, they have to hire experts, they have to interview experts, they have to talk to the client, they have to spend hours and hours going over discovery,” von Helms said.
Maya, whose body was never found, leaves behind three children. After more than two years, her family is still searching for answers.
“We still believe she is still out there. We have no idea where she is,” said Drouaillet, Maya’s sister. “We are doing this for the public to know … we asking the public, the community, for their help.”
“I still have faith, we are still doing our monthly prayer,” she continued.
Larry is due back in court for another hearing in January 2024. The judge said he would check back with Larry’s new defense team closer to the August trial date on how they are proceeding with the case.