It’s been over six months since Chula Vista resident Maya Millete went missing. The missing persons investigation has been long and wide-reaching, with national news stations continuing to cover new developments.
Since the investigation began, authorities have executed multiple search warrants on the family’s home, seized their vehicles, and served Millete’s husband with a gun violence restraining order to remove his firearms from the house. Rumors soon began swirling that Millete had consulted with a divorce attorney earlier in the day, and loud bangs resembling gunshots were heard in the neighborhood that night. [For more information on the specifics of the investigation, check out managing partner David P. Shapiro’s legal analysis on Court TV here.]
While no arrests have been made, some have wondered whether criminal charges—like murder—could still be filed even if Millete is never found. While a prosecution for murder without a body is certainly less common, it is not impossible. Prosecutors would simply need to prove an extra fact that is normally quite obvious: that the alleged victim is, in fact, deceased.
Since Millete’s case is ongoing, law enforcement is understandably keeping certain aspects of their investigation close to the vest. For this reason, we may not know the extent of the evidence that investigators have against any particular suspect—or whether it tends to suggest there was an actual death—for quite some time.
In the meantime, it is more important than ever that we do not forget about the presumption of innocence and refrain from jumping to conclusions until all evidence has been collected and heard in a court of law, instead of the court of public opinion.
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