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Jury Convicts ‘Sleepwalking’ Husband

June 25, 1999

PHOENIX (AP) _ A man who claimed he was sleepwalking when he stabbed his wife 44 times and held her head under water was convicted Friday of first-degree murder.

Scott Falater stared straight ahead and did not react as the verdict was read in a Maricopa County Superior Court.

Jurors also had the option of convicting Falater of second-degree murder. Prosecutors have said they would seek the death penalty.

What Falater did on the night of Jan. 16, 1997, has never been in question. He admitted to stabbing his wife, dragging her body to the backyard swimming pool and holding her head under water.

He has not disputed removing his bloodstained clothes and hiding them and the knife in his Volvo.

But Falater testified he has no memory of any of it.

Two sleep experts cited Falater’s family history of sleepwalking, job stress and lack of sleep as reasons for his violent sleepwalking episode.

During the trial, the defense painted Falater, a former Motorola engineer, and his wife, Yarmila, as a happily married, religious couple. Defense attorney Mike Kimerer said Falater had no reason to kill his wife.

But prosecutors had their own expert witness who testified that the 43-year-old’s actions were too deliberate to constitute sleepwalking.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez said the Falaters’ marriage wasn’t the happy union that Falater described. He noted during his closing arguments Wednesday that the couple had disputes over Scott Falater’s desire to have more children and his wife’s waning dedication to the Mormon faith.

Mrs. Falater was not wearing her wedding ring when her body was found, Martinez noted.

Kimerer has dismissed the disputes over children and religion, saying they were minor, and there was no good reason for Falater to kill his wife of 20 years.

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