'Sleepwalking defense' fails for man on trial for wife's murder

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A jury on Thursday found Raymond Lazarine guilty of murder in the killing of his wife of 35 years.

The verdict came down just after 3:40 p.m.

In December 2013, Lazarine called his son Nathan, urging him to come to his house. He told him he had a dream that he shot and killed his wife. It apparently wasn't a dream.

According to his defense team, on Dec. 18, 2013, Raymond said he was sleepwalking when he shot his 63-year-old wife Debrah a half dozen times, including two shots to her head and one in her back.

They claim because of his sleep-like state, his actions were involuntary. Raymond is now on trial, charged with Debrah's murder.

SEE MORE: 19-year-old found safe after sleepwalking out of her home

Tuesday, prosecutors called 46-year-old Krysta Johns to the stand. Johns is one of Debrah's daughters and Raymond's stepdaughter.

First, Johns was shown a picture of her and her mother smiling together. Johns said it was from a trip to a beach house in Galveston.

After being shown a picture of her mother from the autopsy report, Johns broke down in tears.

Johns answered questions from the state that described Raymond as abusive and a heavy drinker.
She also said Raymond was controlling of her mother, his caretaker. She said he had threatened to kill her mother so many times that she was no longer afraid of him when he said it.

Johns described one particular incident when she was in high school and she walked into her parents' room. She said her mother was hungover and had asked Raymond for a water. She said when she asked him for a different cup, he got on top of her, pinning her down and held a gun under her chin.

Johns told ABC13 that her family is ready for this all to be over. They have waited six years for this trial.

The defense called four men to testify Tuesday, all of which had been incarcerated with Lazerine at some point.

They were all asked the same question: "Had Lazerine ever exhibited odd behavior?"

One by one, the four men testified episodes in which Lazarine was walking in his sleep, both day and night.

Lazerine's defense attorney, Feroz Merchant, said he felt it is important people understand we are still learning how the brain works.

"There are witnesses over there who have seen the manifestation of his sleep disorder, and we thought that would be important for the jury to know," Merchant said.

The defense then called on Gayland Machala. He testified that in 2015, he gave Lazerine two separate sleep study tests.

"He did have a lot of movement in REM. In REM, you are not supposed to be able to move. In REM, you are supposed to be paralyzed," Machala said.

Now that he has been found guilty. Lazerine could face life in prison.

His sentencing is set for Friday.

Debrah's family told ABC13 they "just want justice."

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