Trial opens for man accused of stabbing murder

Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) An attorney for a man accused of stabbing his wife 24 times said Monday during opening statements in a murder trial that his client did not intend to kill her.

Despite the multiple stab wounds, Isaiah Wallner intended only to hurt Brenda Wallner, attorney Craig Howard told jurors.

The issue is first-degree murder vs. second-degree murder and a difference in the likely prison sentence. First-degree sentences tend to be from 65 to 99 years. Second-degree is more likely to earn a defendant 30 to 60 years.

Prosecutor Sharon Illsley told jurors Isaiah Wallner was responsible for 43 wounds: the 24 stab wounds plus 19 defensive cuts.

Brenda Wallner, with a knife handle protruding from her chest, escaped her apartment between 6 and 7 a.m. May 22, 2002, and collapsed near the first-floor balcony of neighbor Patricia Barazi. She lived long enough to tell police and other people who came to her aid that her husband, Isaiah Wallner, killed her.

Howard said the fact that most of the stab wounds, made with a common kitchen paring knife, were superficial is evidence the defendant did not mean to kill his wife. Only three wounds were fatal, he said.

Howard also claimed that Wallner did not realize his wife was dead until police told him.

At the time of the killing, Isaiah, now 28, worked nights at a fast-food restaurant and Brenda, 30, worked days in an ulu factory.

Sometime early on the day of the killing, there was a confrontation between the couple, Howard said.

''It became irrational on both sides,'' Howard said. Isaiah's attack was a rage killing, he said.

When police tracked Brenda's blood trail back to the apartment, they found Isaiah holding a knife to his neck, threatening suicide. Police shot him with nonlethal ammunition and took him into custody.

Not admissable at the trial are statements Isaiah made to police before he was shot. He said he watched his wife sleep for about three hours after he got home from work and contemplated killing her because she wanted a divorce, according to charging papers filed at the time of his arrest.

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