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For week ended May 30, 1999 Posted 4 Jun 1999

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Sleepwalker a kind man, witnesses say

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Sleepwalker a kind man, witnesses say
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 27May99 L8
By Jerry Kammer The Arizona Republic


Husband 'calm' at scene of murder
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 26May99 L8
By Jerry Kammer and Victoria Harker: The Arizona Republic
Firefighter backs sleepwalking defense

A firefighter that responded to the emergency call and who sought to aid Yarmila Falater after her husband Scott stabbed her 44 times and held her under the water in their pool said that Scott Falater seemed unusually calm following the attack.

"It didn't match up to me -- from what I'd seen outside -- that this person had just done this,"said John J. Nettles Jr., who estimates that he has responded to 200 homicides in a 10-year career. Testifying on Tuesday, he also indicated that Falater had assked what was going on and asked where his wife was. In contrast, a Phoenix police officer said that Falater seemed 'out of breath,' like he had just finished a workout.

Then on Wednesday, six defense witnesses said that Falater was a kind, conscientious and unflappable man, claiming that he had no motive for murdering his wife. These witnesses testified to counter the prosecution's contention that the couple's relationship with the LDS Church caused tension in the marriage. But the defense witnesses said that they didn't see any tension. "From the things she said, it seemed to me that they were doing everything according to how you'd wish your life could be, by having a good job and kids and savings and your church," said Yarmila's friend Sarah Elizabeth Biggs. "It seemed like that was the All-American dream."

Their former Bishop, Bruce Balls, agreed, saying that they "cared for each other, went places together and were happy. It seemed like a good relationship to me." He was stunned when the murder was pinned on Falater. "It didn't fit," he said. "It was as far off the wall as anything I could ever think of. ... It's not the Scott I knew in my 10-year relationship with him."

But, in cross examination, Biggs admitted that Yarmila had complained about the church, saying, "The more you do, the more they want you to do." Biggs also recalled that she seemed overwhelmed at times and that she had firmly decided against more children. But Biggs says that this is typical in women who feel overwhelmed.

Another former bishop, Terry Lee Call, admitted seeing Yarmila in tears soon after a change in ward boundaries cut her off from old friends. However, Call said that Yarmila declined to talk about the problem. And he refused to show prosecutors a letter that he had received from Yarmila, claiming 'priest-penitent privilege.

Also testifying was Motorola shipping clerk Wyvaughna Mullins, who said she had never had a better boss than Falater, saying if she had to name the top five bosses she had, Scott "would be number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. . . . There's nobody who comes close to his attitude and the way he treated people," she said.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information