Man charged with killing wife claims self-defense

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2003

ANCHORAGE - A man accused of killing his wife by stabbing her 43 times took the witness stand Tuesday and said it was self-defense.

Isaiah Wallner said his wife, Brenda, also had a knife the morning of May 22, 2002, when harsh words in the couple's apartment kitchen escalated to fatal violence.

Prosecutor Sharon Illsley told jurors Wallner killed his unarmed wife deliberately, stabbing her repeatedly after working himself into a fury over a series of minor irritations that culminated when she tried to leave the apartment to call police from a corner gas station. Their apartment did not have a phone.

Mortally wounded, Brenda Wallner ran from the apartment. Before dying, she told witnesses and police that her husband killed her.

Wallner testified it was not an intentional killing. He snapped when his wife lunged at him with her knife, he said. That caused him to also pick up a knife.

He said he could not be more specific about what happened because he does not remember the killing.

Police found no trace of a second knife because he washed it and put it back in the drawer, he said. When police asked him about what happened that day, he did not mention his wife also had a knife because he was trying to protect her, he said.

According to medical testimony, Brenda Wallner had three stab wounds in her back, including one in each lung. She also had a knife wound in the heart, which Illsley said was probably the last blow delivered before she ran from the apartment.

Illsley told jurors there was no second knife. Offering a photograph of Brenda Wallner's palms, sliced with defensive wounds, Illsley said it was obvious the victim was not holding anything in her hands during the attack.

The jury was expected to begin deliberating the case Wednesday.

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