His Dad Claimed He Was Sleepwalking When He Killed His Mom — and Now Son Is Speaking Out
"Not everyone can say their father stabbed their mom and held her in a pool of water, but that is where I am," Michael Falater tells ABC's 20/20
A son who was 12 years old when his father stabbed and drowned his mom in 1997 — and then claimed he was sleepwalking — is speaking out.
"Not everyone can say their father stabbed their mom and held her in a pool of water, but that is where I am," Michael Falater tells Amy Robach of ABC's 20/20 in an interview airing this week. "In the 20 plus years since I lost my mom, I think about her every day: What she could be doing with my kids now, what life could've been like."
Falater's father Scott never denied being involved in the bloody carnage that occurred on Jan. 16, 1997 in the family's Phoenix, Ariz., home.
On that fateful evening a neighbor watched as the father of two dragged his wife Yarmila, who he had stabbed 44 times, into their family pool and drowned her.
"The husband just threw, I believe the wife, into the pool; it looked like he's holding her underwater," a neighbor told a dispatcher who asked if there had been a fight, ABC15 reported. "I don't know what the problem is, I don't know it's weird, and I'm concerned."
Falater said he didn't remember the fatal assault and then made the unusual claim that he'd been sleepwalking. Falater said he had a history of sleepwalking and denied he and his wife of 20 years were having problems.
The murder made headlines and so did his month-long trial, in which prosecutors alleged that the couple didn't have a happy marriage and had been feuding over having more children and about her purported lack of devotion to his Mormon faith.
There were also tell-tale signs at the crime scene that undermined his sleepwalking claim: He allegedly tended to a cut on his hand after the murder, hid the weapon and bloody clothes and put on a pair of gloves before he dragged her to the pool.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez said Falater's actions "were too complex and did not fit the mold of a sleepwalker," PEOPLE reported at the time.
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Falater, then 43 and an engineer and product manager at Motorola, was found guilty in 1999 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of his pre-school teacher wife.
The two-hour 20/20 episode also features Scott Falater in his first interview since his conviction 22 years ago as well as footage of a prison visit between Falater and Michael, who was 12 when his mother was killed. The special also includes interviews with members of the Phoenix Police Department and jurors as well as sleep experts.
The two-hour episode of 20/20 airs on Friday at 9 p.m. EST on ABC.