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Sleepwalking Used As Murder Defense

January 28, 1998 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) _ An inventor accused of stabbing his wife 44 times and holding her head underwater in their swimming pool says he was sleepwalking at the time and remembers none of it.

Lawyers for Scott Louis Falater claim the Motorola product manager had no idea he killed his wife outside their house a year ago, according to Tuesday’s edition of The Arizona Republic.

Richard Bootzin, a sleep-disorders expert at the University of Arizona, said violence during sleep is extremely rare.

But he said there are documented cases where sleepwalkers walked out of upper-story windows, threw their children out windows and driven cars.

``There are examples of people who have slashed out at someone or thought they were being attacked while asleep,″ Bootzin said. ``It’s not really sleep. It’s some kind of a state in which you are not fully in control of what is going on and you don’t remember what’s going on.″

Falater and his wife Yamila appeared to have a good marriage, said many.

Longtime friends, neighbors and their children said the Mormon couple was quiet, never fought and were active in their church.

Scott Falater’s job was well-paying, though stressful, and Mrs. Falater worked as an aide in a preschool program.

The Falaters’ children told police nothing unusual happened the night of the killing.

Sometime during the night, two neighbors heard a woman screaming ``Please, please don’t.″ One neighbor looked over a wall into the Falaters’ back yard and saw Mrs. Falater lying on her side.

The neighbor saw Falater inside his house, and watched as he walked outside to stare at his wife.

He went back inside and emerged wearing gloves, dragged his wife to the pool and held her head under water. Falater had no explanation for what had happened when police arrived.

Prosecutors claim there is evidence Falater was conscious.

They say he put gloves on before killing his wife and that afterward he bandaged a cut on his finger. Police also say he tried to cover up his crime. Bloody clothes and a knife were found in the family van.

Falater said he remained in his state until awakened by police and a lot of ``noise, screaming and people talking.″

The couple’s two children said they heard nothing and were still asleep when police arrived.

``I’ve been married all my adult life,″ a tearful Falater told detectives at the time. ``She didn’t deserve to die. She was a good wife. She was a great mother.″