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Tom Fallis Murder Trial Heads To Closing Arguments After Coroner Takes Stand

GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) - A former sheriff's deputy accused of killing his wife did not take the stand before testimony in the case ended on Wednesday.

Tom Fallis, a former Weld County corrections officer, is accused of murdering his 28-year-old wife after a New Year's Eve party in 2012. Ashley Fallis' death was first ruled a suicide, but the case was reopened two years later.

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Tom Fallis in court (credit: CBS)

Wednesday afternoon the judge asked Tom Fallis if he wanted to testify, and at one point the defense hinted he would testify. In the end, Fallis told the judge he wouldn't.

The trial now moves on to closing arguments that begin Thursday morning.

The prosecution wrapped up its case by putting on the stand the coroner who performed Ashley's autopsy, and later changed his ruling. Shortly after the investigation into Ashley's death was reopened, Dr. James Wilkerson said there was a lot of new information.

Dr. James Wilkerson
Dr. James Wilkerson on the stand on Wednesday (credit: CBS)

"This case was really unusual in that there's law enforcement on both sides of the case, and in the middle of this case," Wilkerson said. "I've never had a case like that and law enforcement is very good at controlling information."

Wilkerson had performed the autopsy in 2012, and two years later agreed to take a second look.

"I did not have a coroner's investigator to verify these things independently; I changed the manner to undetermined," Wilkerson said.

Prosecutor Benjamin Whitney asked Wilkerson if the "undetermined" ruling still stands and Wilkerson confirmed that it did.

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Ashley Fallis' fingernails (credit: CBS)

The defense questioned Wilkerson's reasons for changing his opinion, saying detectives didn't tell him the DNA found on Ashley's fingernails could have come from not only Tom, but also their son, and Tom's father, Jim.

"That would make a difference to you, to know that information if Detective (Jaclyn) Shaklee had indicated that to you?" defense attorney Iris Eytan asked Wilkerson.

"Yes, although I still think I would have moved this case to undetermined," he replied.

After the jury left for the day the judge made an important ruling. The jury is tasked with determining whether Tom Fallis is guilty of second-degree murder, but if they don't think the evidence amounts to that, the judge decided the jury can find him guilty of a lesser offense -- either reckless manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide. They'll start deliberating Thursday after closing arguments.

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