Doug Grant Truth
Making a mess the message
When catastrophic events tear your life apart, you can let them destroy you, or you can use them to strengthen your character and make you a better person.
Doug’s father was a big believer in this philosophy, and impressed it upon Doug when he was a young man.
This belief system had helped Doug’s father survive confinement, starvation and cruelty in a German prison camp during WWII. And it helped Doug face the biggest challenge of his life—wrongful prosecution and imprisonment.
On this page we’ll provide a summarized version of this event. Because the case has been so heavily reported in the media, we will intentionally be covering aspects that were not allowed to be presented to the jury—and not investigated by the media.
In the early morning of September 28, 2001 Doug’s then-wife Faylene Grant was found unconscious in her bathtub in the city of Gilbert, Arizona. She died later that day at the hospital. For several months prior, Faylene had written a series of goodbye letters to her family and friends stating that it was “God’s will” for her to die.
To everyone who knew her Faylene was a kind and gentle person, and was very serious about her religious beliefs. Unfortunately, after a shoulder injury from a hiking accident, she was prescribed medications that had a drastic effect on her life.
High doses of these prescription medications—the sleep aid Ambien and the painkiller Oxycodone—were are found in Faylene’s system after she died. During the following month police investigators and the medical examiner determined her death was accidental.
Since no crime had taken place, no detailed crime scene investigation was ever conducted. Members of both Doug’s family and Faylene’s family attended funeral services together, and Doug was one of the speakers at his wife’s funeral.
For six months after Faylene’s death, five members of her family continued to work at Doug’s business, Optimal Health Systems. Most served in high-paid senior positions.
All seemed well until an event in March 2002 changed everything.
In that month, the members of Faylene’s family who were still working at Optimal Health Systems attempted a hostile take-over of the business. They held most of the key positions at the company and sought to pressure Doug into leaving the company he, himself, founded.
The attempt failed, though the departure of several senior employees caused hardship to the business for a some time. It also sowed the seeds of animosity that led to members of Faylene’s family making accusations against Doug.
A month after the attempted take-over, different members of Faylene’s family begin to push for an investigation of Faylene’s death as “suspicious.”
Though the original investigator had ruled Faylene’s death accidental, the family members are able to push a new narrative due in large part because Faylene’s father is close friends with the (at the time) Gilbert police chief.
Faylene’s father and the Gilbert police chief also attend church together.
The Gilbert police chief removes the original investigator and appoints a relative of his, Detective Sy Ray, as the new lead detective.
For the next three years the investigation languishes. Even though Faylene’s family wields much influence locally, the investigation fails to move forward due to lack of evidence.
One thing the Gilbert Police Department does manage to accomplish during this time is to lose evidence proving the accidental nature of Faylene’s death–the empty prescription bottles.
In early 2005 Detective Sy Ray gets the break he is looking for—a break he helped fabricate.
An old friend of Doug’s approaches Faylene’s family and tells them he would testify that Doug admitted to him that he killed his wife—for $10,000 cash.
Instead of $10,000, the “witness” receives a threat of jail time from Detective Ray unless he does the detective’s bidding. The witness is then secretly wired and pays a visit to Doug in an attempt to get Doug to incriminate himself.
This attempt culminates in another failure for the Gilbert Police Department. Rather than admitting any culpability, Doug is instead recorded telling his “old friend” that he is crazy.
The fact that Doug denied all accusations in a secretly-wired conversation is one of the many aspects of the investigation that is favorable to Doug, but is never told to any jury. Nor is it ever reported in any of the media accounts.
The prosecution manages to procure an indictment from a grand jury who hear from only one witness: Sy Ray, the lead detective.
Detective Ray fails to tell the grand jury about Faylene’s journal entries and letters to family members. These records clearly show her state of mind, and that she had even contemplated her own death.
Because the prosecution’s tactics were shown to be so dishonest, a judge eventually remands the case to another grand jury for consideration.
“Star witness” recants testimony
As the case against Doug languishes once again, the witness that the prosecution had built their entire case around recants his entire testimony.
In an interview with an investigative reporter he states he had “invented” the story he first told Faylene’s family and Detective Ray. He now admits there had been no murder confession by Doug.
In later interviews with defense attorneys the now “ex-witness” provides statements that he was coerced and threatened by the police. Though this police misconduct is reported to the court and to the Gilbert Police Department, no action is taken against Detective Sy Ray.
Due to the poor handling of the case, and because a totally new “spin” is required if the case against Doug is to continue, the original prosecutor is removed from the case.
The new prosecutor is Juan Martinez, one of Arizona’s top prosecutors. Martinez is known for his aggressive style an unparalleled win rate.
Martinez will eventually be disbarred by Arizona’s top court for prosecutorial misconduct. Unfortunately, many accused people, like Doug, will first have to suffer through tyrannical court proceedings at Martinez’s hands before he is reined in and ultimately fired.
Five years have now passed since Faylene’s death; however, it will still be over two years before the case is presented to a jury. During this time Doug and his defense team will learn just how dishonest and corrupt prosecutor Juan Martinez is.
Public court records show the subsequent two years were spent with the defense repeatedly going before judges to obtain the exculpatory evidence they should have received automatically.
Rather than court-ordered cooperation, the prosecution repeatedly throws up roadblocks: The empty prescription bottles are “lost” by police. Blood work is mysteriously thrown away. Phone records no longer exist. Faylene’s distraught letters to family members can’t be located.
In the most dishonest move of all, Juan Martinez manages to prevent the majority of Faylene’s letters and diary entries from being admitted as evidence.
Though Juan Martinez will eventually pay for a lifetime on unethical behavior, during the Doug Grant trial he was at the top of his game. He was succinctly proving that prosecutors with lofty ambition and egos only care about winning. Truth is irrelevant.
Unfair and unbalanced
The jury was selected in early November, 2008. Jury members who had already made online comments that they felt Doug was guilty (based on negative media coverage they saw) were still allowed to sit on the jury panel.
The prosecution presented their opening statements on November 12 and 13. Not surprisingly, the now-discredited “star witness” was not even mentioned.
This is an incredible turn of events since the prosecution had gained warrants and issued subpoenas based solely on his testimony. The prosecution had even made statements to the media that the star witness was crucial to Doug’s arrest and prosecution.
In an astonishing example of injustice, the time frame for the trial is ultimately divided into 14 weeks for the prosecution to present their case, and only two weeks for the defense. The defense would have to eliminate many of their witnesses.
Highlights from the trial include:
While blocking expert witnesses testimony documenting the numerous accidental deaths caused by Ambien usage, prosecutor Juan Martinez presented a case claiming Doug was responsible for Faylene’s overdose.
This assertion was made even as the police witnesses testified they lost the prescription bottles in their possession. If Faylene’s fingerprints were the only ones present on the bottles, the prosecution’s entire case would have come apart. Conveniently for the prosecution, though, the bottles simply disappeared.
As their first witness, the prosecution presents Faylene’s daughter–Doug’s step-daughter. She was only 11 the morning her mother died, and her current “memory” of that morning is now far different than testimony given in recorded interviews seven years earlier.
The earlier testimony is favorable to Doug, while the new testimony is clearly coached. Even though the earlier recordings were done at the time of the death, the court doesn’t allow the jury to hear them.
Physician Assistant, Chad White, testifies that he prescribed Ambien to Faylene Grant after examining her–in contradiction to the prosecutor’s assertion that Doug had procured the sleeping medicine for Faylene.
The medical examiner testifies that he switched the original cause of death from “accidental” to “undetermined” only because detectives were planning an investigation and didn’t want cause of death listed as accidental.
The court rules the jury is not allowed to be told that Faylene’s family members (who are testifying against Doug) worked for Doug after Faylene’s death and later attempted a hostile takeover of Doug’s business.
The court rules that witnesses cannot mention the words “accident” or “suicide” in front of the jury, even if that is their opinion.
The original (first) detective on the case testifies that he did not finding any evidence of foul play, and was subsequently pulled from the case and replaced.
This means the original prosecutor, the original detective, and the original “star witness” were all removed during the early portion of the case.
Doug’s sister testifies that Faylene Grant had laid out burial clothes and a borrowed wedding dress with a note saying she wanted it returned because she was going to die.
On cross-examination Detective Ray admits to a number of dishonest moves during the investigation: He still had interview tapes that should have been turned over to the defense stored at the Gilbert Police Department; he did not provide the defense with copies of letters that Faylene’s family members were in possession of; he did not bother to interview all the members of Doug’s family in an honest attempt to find the truth.
During testimony by defense witnesses, prosecutor Juan Martinez objected at rates of up to 200 times per day, making it virtually impossible for witnesses to make their point. Several frustrated witnesses were threatened with contempt when they forcefully tried to clarify points they felt Martinez was misrepresenting by demanding only “yes” or “no” answers.
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The judge’s rulings were so inconsistent, and so partial to the prosecution, that one intrepid reporter finally commented that the judge had been “no friend of the defense during the trial.” He even gave the article the appropriate title of Crazy Goings-on at the Doug Grant Murder Trial. You can read the archived article here.
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Nearing the end of the trial, and sensing failure at presenting his case, Juan Martinez does another drastic about-face: He requests that the jury be told that they can convict Doug of a lesser crime, even assisted suicide. As is now the established pattern, the judge agrees.
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The jury deliberates for over two weeks. On March 24, 2009 the court clerk reads announcement that jury did not agree on first degree murder or even second degree murder, but does find the defendant guilty of manslaughter.
Under Arizona law, manslaughter is defined as “recklessly causing the death of another person.” While Doug’s supporters felt even this was a travesty of justice at the hands of a dishonest prosecutor, at least it was a far cry from the murder charges he was first accused of.
Serving the prison sentence
On May 15, 2009 Judge Mahoney sentenced Doug to five years in prison. Most of this time was spent at the Arizona State Prison in Douglas, Arizona.
During this time Doug was not permitted to be involved in the day-to-day operations of his own company. It was just one more way this wrongful prosecution damaged lives—causing the loss of jobs of people who were depending on Doug for employment.
Fortunately there were key people at Optimal Health Systems who were able to maintain operations, even while some drastic cuts had to be made. Doug was also able to provide important guidance and direction with weekly consultations by family.
For his prison “job” Doug chose to help teach remedial reading and writing classes for inmates in the prison GED program.
In trying to make the best of a horrible situation, Doug was also able to turn the long hours of incarceration into valuable research time. Reviewing new research and refining products has always been a hallmark of Optimal Health Systems, and this period was no different.
Civil suit victory
While serving his prison sentence, a multi-million dollar civil lawsuit was filed by members of Faylene’s family. It did not end the way they hoped.
Not only did the family not get the significant payout they demanded, but many facts that were ruled inadmissible in the criminal trial were allowed to be presented in the civil trial.
These facts were so favorable to the defense that it led to some very telling statements from the judge at the conclusion of the trial:
“The evidence presented in the case at bar has not convinced this Judge that it is highly likely that the Defendant intentionally killed Faylene Grant.”
“Given all of the circumstances, including but not limited to those discussed above, the Court declines to award punitive damages.”
As the court pointed out, to awared punitive damages the defendant’s actions need to be greater than mere negligence—and the plaintiffs failed to do that.
The civil suit hearing concluding in this fashion is even more significant considering it had to be defended while Doug was in prison and without the aid of an attorney. While the plantiffs were represented by a team of attorneys, Doug’s “legal team” amounted to himself, his wife and his children.