By LAUREN SILVER
PENSACOLA, Fla. (Court TV) — As Gregory Malarik stands trial for the second time on charges he murdered his wife, his stepson Jacob Malarik is talking about the mother he lost and his stepfather, whom he describes as abusive.
Gregory Malarik was charged with first-degree murder for the death of his wife, Sherri Lynn Malarik, who was killed in 2001. Gregory was not charged until more than 20 years later when the woman with whom he was having an affair confessed her role in Sherri’s murder to police. Gregory’s first murder trial in June 2022 ended in a mistrial when the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. His second trial began on Oct. 9, 2023.
In what he described as a “love letter” to his mother that he shared with Court TV, Jacob shared how much he misses her: “It’s been 19 years since I’ve been able to see your face or hear your voice. It’s been 19 years since I’ve had a parent love me.”
Jacob was 11 years old when his mother was murdered. In an interview with Court TV, Jacob described home life with Gregory as abusive. When Sherri and Gregory married approximately seven years before her murder, she brought Jacob into the marriage with her. Gregory also brought two children of his own into the relationship — an older girl and a 4-year-old boy named Gregory.
Jacob said that home life was blissful until his mother and stepfather had their own children together. The couple would go on to have three children before Sherri’s death. “This was kind of a shock to the family system, right? We just went from a very small group to a very big group pretty quickly. So from one kid, two parents to now three, four or five, six-year-old kids and a newborn.”
Jacob described “weird signs of aggression” from his stepfather, which included being forced to eat dried cayenne peppers as punishment. When both Sherri and Gregory were home, Jacob described his stepfather’s behavior as moderated. But because both parents were in the Navy, when Sherri was deployed the children would be left in Gregory’s care.
“You were replaced in a matter of minutes in hopes that we would accept this less-than-poor attempt at a mother”
When Sherri was deployed in Greece, a woman named Jennifer Spohn began coming to the house. While she was introduced to the children as a babysitter, prosecutors say Jennifer and Gregory were having an illicit affair that would end with Jennifer helping Gregory carry out Sherri’s murder.
“When she first started coming over, she might come over 15 minutes, 20 minutes before (Gregory) left. And then he’d come home from his Masonic Lodge meetings and they would, you know, talk for whatever, 20, 30 minutes. And then she would kind of leave and go home. And then as time went on, like she would come over beforehand and stay two or three hours aftrerwards. … It got to a point where she started spending the night, or like little Greg and I would walk out of the bedgroom and we’d see them in the living room, like laying on the floor, drinking a bottle of wine, like starting to get very intimate.”
Jacob described Gregory’s behavior after his mother’s death as strange. “To this day, I have never had an open conversation about my mom with Greg, ever. I have never seen him cry about it. I’ve never seen him really upset about it. It was very strange.” Jacob said that the children were called into a family meeting where they were told his mother was dead. He said Gregory told them that they were safe and they’d find out what happened, but “It wasn’t consoling at all. It was more, if people came around asking you questions, ‘Remember: family business is family business. We keep that to the family.’ It was very weird.”
Jacob testified at both trials. When he talked to Court TV ahead of the second trial, he said that at Gregory’s first trial, he deliberately tried not to make eye contact with him. Though he didn’t look directly at Gregory on the first day of his testimony, their eyes met when he returned for a second day of questioning.
“I remember when I was up there, I did make eye contact with Greg, and he was looking at me back. And the face that he gave me was like he was looking for sympathy or something. And it was so strange to me. I don’t know if people looking at me could see any reaction or not. But in my head I felt like I almost wanted to, like, laugh. Like, are you really asking for sympathy? Are you really? Like, you’ve never looked at me like this before. And are you really trying to look for sympathy? You’re looking for any kind of help or support or anything from me right now? Are you really looking at me like I’m betraying you, because you’ve never been there for me. You’ve taken my mother from me. You treated me like absolute garbage.”
Jacob testified on the first day of his stepfather’s second trial, on Oct. 9.