Tense Testimony Tendered In Mormon Murder Trial

Prosecutor Juan Martinez tried to paint murder defendant Doug Grant's current wife Hilary as a co-conspiring, manipulative, slutty, cold-blooded, gold-digging, backstabbing floozy during hours of tense testimony Wednesday.

  Doug Grant, a onetime nutritionist for the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks, is accused of killing another of his wives, Faylene (that's the late Mrs. Grant with hubby in a July 2001 photo) back in September 2001.

We have written extensively about this tragic and most unusual case, and will publish a follow-up story after the jurors finally decide Grant's fate, probably in early March.

Judge Margaret Mahoney allowed the blustery Martinez wide latitude to verbally assail Hilary Grant during his direct examination.

The veteran barrister has endlessly badgered witnesses averse to his cause during this trial, which started last November. Martinez has been more than happy to exploit the rare opportunity afforded him by the judge to be especially rude and confrontational when he sees fit--which has been often.

For strategic reasons, the prosecutor called Hilary to the stand as his witness, though she is as hostile to the state's case as any one of the 120-plus potential witnesses listed in court paperwork.

Now 27, Hilary described to jurors how she had met her future husband, Doug, as a 19-year-old receptionist at his vitamin company, then based in Mesa. Doug (who was 15 years her senior) was recently divorced from Faylene.

Hilary and Doug started dating after a time, and she said they were discussing marriage in the summer of 2001 when Doug abruptly ended the relationship and remarried Faylene.

Faylene died just two months after that; she drowned in a bathtub inside her Gilbert home after having ingested an excessive dosage of the sleep aid Ambien. Though a county coroner ruled the manner of her death "undetermined," Gilbert police arrested Doug Grant in July 2005 on a charge of premediated, first-degree murder.

One motive for the alleged murder, according to Martinez's theory, was Doug Grant's desire to resume his relationship with Hilary, the classic "other woman."

As evidence of that, Martinez has pointed to the libidinous Grant's marriage to Hilary less than a month after Faylene died, a move that, in hindsight, was largely responsible for landing Grant in the lousy situation he's in -- he's facing a possible life sentence if the jury convicts him of first-degree murder.

But nothing is quite how it seems in this twisted, closely watched, and highly charged case.

It turns out that Hilary and Faylene became close friends after Doug remarried Faylene and, according to Hilary, the 35-year-old mother of four confided in her of "premonitions" that she would die of unknown causes on her second honeymoon with Doug. It was on that trip that Faylene tumbled off a cliff south of Salt Lake City, sustaining several injuries (none of them life-threatening).

Faylene died in Arizona about 68 hours after she miraculously survived the fall.

In the days and weeks before she died, Faylene also wrote "farewell" letters to Hilary, to numerous family members and to friends. Some of the letters instructed family members to welcome Hilary into the fold as Doug's new wife and "earthly" mother to Faylene's four children after her death.

Martinez chided Hilary for not having contacted authorities or anyone else with her concerns over Faylene's welfare on the second honeymoon.

"I don't know what I could have done," Hilary responded. "I didn't know what I was going to prevent."

Testimony at the fascinating murder trial continues this morning, with defense attorney Mel McDonald getting his crack at cross-examining Hilary.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin