Longform

A Killer Sleep Disorder

Page 6 of 10

Also inside the container was a bloodstained hunting knife.
Next to the container was a black garbage bag, which held soaked black leather gloves and bloodstained brown leather boots.

The evidence seemed to show that:
* The bloodstained clothing in the Volvo had been worn by Scott Falater when he stabbed Yarmila.

* He'd then returned to the house, shed his bloody clothes, probably put a Band-Aid on his injured hand, and walked back outside in his red pajamas. (It's uncertain if he had been wearing his red pajamas--the ones Greg Koons described as sweat pants and the ones in which police arrested him--beneath his bloody jeans, or changed into them afterward.)

* He likely made separate trips to the Volvo, the first to deposit the bloodstained clothes and murder weapon, and the second to deposit his boots and gloves.

* He'd had no time to flee or cover his tracks.
Though Dr. Ann Bucholtz of the Medical Examiner's Office couldn't tell the order of the 44 stab wounds, she noted that six were to the back, five to the neck, three to the abdomen, 10 to the breasts, six to the front of the neck, two near the left ear, and 12 defensive-type wounds to the hands.

Five stab wounds penetrated to the hilt--at least four inches deep. At least four wounds would have been fatal, the autopsy report concluded, three to the lungs and one to her heart.

The report lists Yarmila's cause of death as "multiple stab wounds with drowning."

"I know in the interrogation I said I woke up hearing guys talking and all that," Falater tells New Times, "but the first memory that I have that can actually convert to what's happening in an unbroken stream of chronology is seeing the cop charge me through the back door. I thought I was getting up out of bed to see what on earth is going on down there. . . . When I hear people yelling and dogs barking, I'm wondering if I wasn't attacking Yarm [then]. I don't know."

The day after the murder, detectives spoke with the two Falater children (though why they didn't interview the pair separately, and allowed family friends to sit in, is unknown).

The siblings described a benign evening, and said they could think of nothing that would have led their father to harm their mother. They couldn't even remember their parents arguing, that night or any night.

The kids said Yarmila was watching television and reading a book in the family room when they had gone to bed between 9 and 9:30 p.m. They said their dad had been trying to devise a computer game for his church youth group.

"I asked them again if both parents seemed normal or either one of them seemed out of sorts," a detective noted, "and both children stated no, everything appeared normal."

The Falater children also are expected to testify that their father would don the jeans--the ones soaked in blood during the stabbing--when he was working around the home, and usually left them and other items in the large plastic container in the Volvo trunk, where police found them. They are also expected to say that he kept the knife with which he stabbed Yarmila in the car trunk as well.

Yarmila was buried at Scottsdale's Paradise Memorial Gardens. Scott Falater was behind bars and couldn't attend, though members of both families attended the services and tried to come to grips with a shocking tragedy.

By then, Falater had hired Mike Kimerer--one of Arizona's most respected attorneys--to defend him. Within a few days, Kimerer had interviewed the neighbor, Greg Koons, in the presence of Falater's mother, Lois Wilcek--who had flown in to be with her son and grandchildren.

Kimerer says--and Wilcek confirms this--that Koons told him a slightly different story from the one he'd told police on the night of January 16.

"I remember him talking about Scott's movements being calm and deliberate and that he had a flat expression," Wilcek says. "'Like a robot,' that's exactly what he said. He also said he thought Scott may have seen him, but that Scott never said a word." (New Times was unable to contact Koons.)

After hearing this, Wilcek told Kimerer that Falater had been a sleepwalker as a young boy and into adolescence.

Within a few days, Scott Falater's sleepwalking defense was born.

In all of us, even in good men, there is a lawless wild-beast nature which peers out in sleep.

--Plato, The Republic

Defense attorneys long have raised the specter of sleepwalking in criminal cases, with mixed success.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin