CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) -- Experts are weighing in on the next steps of the investigation following a gun violence restraining order served to the husband of missing Chula Vista mother Maya Millete.
The order involving Larry Millete’s weapons was issued May 5, two days before Chula Vista Police served another search warrant at the Millete home.
The order lists 14 firearms with unknown serial numbers, and another nine registered guns, all reportedly owned by Larry Millete
The order states there are a couple of photos of a kitchen table with a “cache of 16 firearms, four U.S. Passports, a government ID card, several high-capacity magazines and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.”
It goes on to state that one of the photos depicted Millete’s son, approximately four-years-old, standing on the table surrounded by the legal and illegal guns and ammo, and that “the child has immediate access to the weapons, creating a potential extreme danger to the child and those physically present at the home.”
In response to an ABC 10News reporter’s inquires, Larry Millete sent text messages saying, in part:
“All my firearms were purchased legally. I am a law-abiding citizen and veteran. My rights have been violated numerous times. Especially my 2nd and 4th Amendments.”
He went on to say: “Also, I would like to add that I have showed no aggression or pose no risk that would prohibit me to owning or possessing firearms. It’s our constitutional right as Americans. To be able to protect our family from all enemies foreign and domestic.”
Maya Millete, a mother of three children, has been missing since January.
Potential criminal charges?
San Diego County District Attorney Paul Pfingst, now a defense lawyer involved in some of the county’s most-high profile cases, told ABC 10News, “When someone has a restraining order they’re not permitted to have guns until the temporary restraining order is resolved by a judge, and by not permitted it means you have to get the guns to the sheriff or you have to give them to a gun dealer where that could be stored safely. Apparently, that was not done in this case.”
Pfingst said while we still don’t know, it wouldn’t be surprising if investigators removed guns from the home as they executed a second search warrant on Friday.
Pfingst suggested criminal charges are likely on the way, although they would only be regarding the firearms, not Maya’s Millete’s missing persons case.
“I suspect it’s highly likely there will be criminal charges for the noncompliance with the restraining order but those criminal charges will be unrelated to the disappearance or the potential homicide,” said Pfingst.
As far as the picture of the child surround by the guns, “That's a pretty thin thread upon which to remove children from a home, because no one knows if the guns were loaded or if the child just posed there for a second,” he said.
The order is a temporary one, and during a hearing on June 22, it will be decided by a judge if it will expire or be extended. The written declaration in order showed a number of Millete’s guns missing.
“Only two of the total twenty firearms have been accounted for by law enforcement,” a San Diego Police detective wrote.
Team 10 spoke with forensic criminologist and retired detective with the San Jose Police Department Dr. Ron Martinelli. He said of the guns police do have, there isn’t much they can do with them at this point.
“With a gun violence restraining order, they can take the weapons. They just can’t test the weapons,” Martinelli said. “In order to test the weapons, they have to have a nexus. They have to have some sort of connection between a weapon or weapons and a murder, which they haven’t been able to establish yet.”
Multiple search warrants have been issued throughout the investigation. It is unclear what police took from the Millete home during a search warrant executed on May 7.
Millete told officers “he knew they were coming for his firearms and he gave multiple firearms to his friends,” according to the restraining order. He has not said who or where the weapons are, leaving more questions during this emotional and difficult time for Maya’s loved ones.
“I’ve had a number of clients who have had these gun violence restraining orders enforced when they improperly gave the guns to the relatives or something like that and they were charged criminally,” said Pfingst.
“Everybody wants closure, and they want justice,” Martinelli said. “But these things do take time.”
The documents also said Larry had, “illegal assault weapons and unregistered firearms.” That could get him in more trouble.
Attorney David Shapiro, not involved in the case, said possession of the unregistered firearms is likely more of a misdemeanor “unless it’s alleged or accused or used in the commission of an offense.”
Shapiro said police cannot force Millete to share where the weapons are located but could get a search warrant for his communications. The court could compel him to show they were surrendered, destroyed, or legally transferred.