A man who claimed he was sleepwalking when he killed his wife by stabbing her 44 times and holding her head under water was sentenced today to life in prison without a chance of parole.

Scott Falater, who never denied he killed Yarmila Falater, was convicted of first-degree murder on June 25.

Jurors said that Falater's claim of sleepwalking was hard to believe.

Falater, 43, showed no emotion when Superior Court Judge Ronald Reinstein sentenced him.

Falater's actions on the night of Jan. 16, 1997, were never in question. He admitted stabbing his wife, stashing the knife and some bloody clothes in the back of his Volvo, then dragging her to the pool at their Phoenix home and holding her head under water.

Falater testified he did not remember any of it, and two sleep experts cited a family history of sleepwalking, as well as Falater's job stress and lack of sleep, as reasons for a violent sleepwalking episode. The defense painted Falater, a former Motorola engineer, and his wife of 20 years as a happily married, religious couple.

The prosecution's experts said Falater's actions were too deliberate for him to have been sleepwalking.

They based that view in part on testimony from a neighbor who watched over a wall as Falater pulled on gloves, motioned to his dog to lie down, then dragged Yarmila Falater's body to the pool.