EVANS, Colo. - The family of an Evans woman who died from a gunshot wound to the head following a New Year's Eve Party in 2011 is blasting a police detective, who they say changed witnesses’ testimony and omitted key evidence in reports.
At a Thursday news conference, Ashley Fallis' family and their attorney accused Evans Police Detective Michael Yates of covering up a murder by Ashley's husband, Tom Fallis, who at the time was a Weld County deputy.
"We know in our hearts that my sister was killed by Tom Fallis," Ashley's brother, Bryce Fox-Raguindin, said.
Attorney Daniel Recht, who said he is representing the family pro-bono because he believes in the righteousness of their cause, outlined seven reasons why he believes Yates and the Evans Police Department should have investigated the case as first-degree murder from the beginning.
- He said next door neighbor Nick Glover “very specifically and with certainty” overheard Tom Fallis say to his father, “What did I do? What did I do?” and that when his father asked him what he did, Fallis replied, “I shot her.” Recht said Yates never wrote a report about the confession Glover heard and “in essence covered it up.”
- Recht said another neighbor, Chelsea Arrigo, overheard Ashley Fallis yelling, “Get off me! Get off me!” and then heard a gunshot. He said she told Nick Glover’s mom to call police and tell them "Our neighbor just shot his wife." “Yet, outrageously and inexplicably, Detective Yates wrote in his report that the neighbor said, ‘Call police. The neighbor just shot herself,’” Recht said.
- The attorney said the Fallis’ 6-year-old child specifically told police, “I saw Daddy get the gun ready,” and that she saw “Daddy shoot Mommy.” Recht said this information was discounted because the child said she thought she heard three gunshots when there was only one.
- Ashley had wounds that were indicative of a physical fight.
- Tom had wounds that were indicative of a physical fight.
- The Fallis’ bedroom was in disarray. Artwork had been strewn on the floor and there was art hanging crookedly on the wall, “which was indicative of a physical fight, but Tom said Ashley went to the bathroom and shot herself and he said there was no fight," Recht said.
- The party ended prematurely, Recht said, because Tom Fallis, according to people at the party, “was in a rage,” and was “creating a scene.”
No documents or evidence were released during the news conference. Family members say they learned there were issues regarding Yate’s police reports last week.
Ashley’s father, Joel Raguindin, said he wants to know why Yates (allegedly) omitted or altered witness statements. He wonders if Yates has any children.
“If the same thing happened to your child, would you want the truth omitted or changed?” he asked.
“I can only wonder who else is involved,” said Ashley’s mom, Jenna Fox. “Police are here to serve and protect the public. Who is Detective Yates serving and protecting?”
On Tuesday, Evans Police Chief Rick Brandt ordered that the investigation into Fallis’ death be reopened, based on the questions raised about Yates’ police reports.
Brandt said it was premature to say it was now a homicide investigation. He said he asked Fort Collins Police to investigate the death of Ashley Fallis, and he asked Loveland Police to investigate the allegations against Yates.
Family members said they welcome the new investigation.
They also said they fear for the safety of the deceased woman's three young children, who are living with their dad in Indiana.
"It kills me to think that the children have to live with the monster who killed their mother," Fox-Raguindin said.
Ashley’s parents say they are able to visit with their grandkids by Skype or on the phone.
They said the children are very guarded in what they talk about on the phone, but “open up a little more” when they visit in person.
7NEWS has tried to contact Tom Fallis to get his side of the story, but the former deputy has changed his cell phone number and his only listed address is a mailbox.
"We urge that the investigation be done thoroughly but quickly and that the Weld County District Attorney seek justice in this case. Justice in this case is a first-degree murder prosecution against Tom Fallis," Recht said.
"Now is the time for my sister to finally get the justice she has always deserved," Bryce Fox-Raguindin added.