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For week ended December 19, 1999 Posted 18 Dec 1999

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LDS 'Sleepwalking' killer makes plea for life

Summarized by Kent Larsen

LDS 'Sleepwalking' killer makes plea for life
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 14Dec99 D2
By Jerry Kammer: The Arizona Republic

PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- Former LDS high councilor Scott Falater plead on Monday for a judge to spare his life. "Please give us the chance to rebuild what we can, to rebuild our relationship as much as we can," said Falater, in tears, to Judge Ronald Reinstein. Falater was testifying at his sentencing hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Also testifying yesterday were Falater's children. Michael, a 15-year-old Eagle Scout at North Canyon High School, told Judge Reinstein about his father, "I love him more than anything else in the world." His daughter, Megan, an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Chicago, asked the Judge for "the opportunity to have a relationship with my father at some point."

Falater also expressed remorse for the 1997 murder of his wife. While he has consistently insisted that the attack happened while he was asleep, he says he tortures himself over his deeds. "I have no memory of what happened. The one thing I do know is that I loved my wife. . . . I've tortured myself a hundred times with thoughts of what must have been going through her (Yarmila's) mind as she was being attacked by me. It had to have been a terrifying, confusing and painful experience for her."

Meanwhile, Yarmila Falater's mother wrote a letter to the Judge giving a mixed reaction to Reinstein, it was revealed Monday. Yarmila Klesken said in the letter, "In the 21 1/2 years of marriage, Scott really was a good and caring husband and father." She also said that her grandchildren needed a parent, "even if that parent is in jail." But she seemed to ask for a sentence that offered no chance of parole. She wrote that "knowing that Scott will be in jail the rest of his life would be penalty enough."

Also testifying for the defense was a psychologist who said he had never seen a first-degree murder convict with such a normal makeup. "I can't think of any time in 23 years that I've seen a (psychological) profile so devoid of pathology," said Dr. Michael Bayless. He said Falater is "non-aggressive" and somewhat introspective," and gave no hint of antagonism toward his wife.

Other testimony at the hearing Monday included Dr. Robert Bux, a Texas medical examiner who challenged the autopsy report on Yarmila, saying that she was dead before she was put into the family's pool, a fact that adds credibility to Falater's claim that he was sleepwalking at the time of the murder.

And county detention Officer D.J. Hudgens testified that during the 18 months she was assigned to his jail unit, Falater was a model inmate, spending his time studying religious materials and speaking with other inmates about the LDS Church. "He was a help, I think, to a lot of the inmates," Hudgens said. Falater was excommunicated after his conviction, conforming to LDS Church policy.

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