Marriage is a tricky thing even for the most patient of people. But sometimes the nagging and constant bickering gets the better of people and they up divorced. Then there are those who take things to a whole new level.
Steven and Elana were very much in love when they first met, while everyone assumed they would be together for life. When things took a violent turn for the worst, the people they loved were left shocked and confused…
Love At First Sight
Steven and Elena felt an instant connection when they met in college. The two, both from Jewish families, had a strong chemistry and a bunch of things in common. Most of their friends and family thought it was a match made in heaven and wedding bells were soon a foregone conclusion.
The couple decided to tie the knot and got married in a lavish Jewish ceremony and enjoyed an equally lavish wedding reception after the formalities were over. Steven and Elana looked like the ideal, happily married couple, and that was the case; at least for a few years…
Life In Scottdale
Neither Steven nor Elana were religious people in any way; more just culturally Jewish than anything else. They lived in a large, perfectly decorated home in Scottdale, Arizona and were loving their new life together. But Steven sometimes sleepwalked and that was freaky for his wife even if she loved him.
One hates to jump on board when it comes to stereotypes but there was no question about it; Elana was a typical “Jap” and a high maintenance person who was very into materialistic things. Steven worked all the hours on God’s Earth to placate his nagging wife, but no matter what he did it was never good enough.
Elana was hard going; that much no one denied including her own friends and family. She shopped daily, nagged her husband in a shrill voice and withheld sex on a regular basis. She was the dominant type and she reportedly badgered Steven to distraction. But other than divorce. there wasn’t a whole lot he could do…or was there?
Steven and Elana had two daughters, one a 12-year-old called Traci who they were both very close with. However, Steven described his daughter as a “Princess in Training,” claiming she was just like her nagging mother and getting worse with time. To Steven’s mind, Elana and Traci were cut from the same cloth and that made Steven’s life almost unbearable…
We’ll reveal soon why we keep talking about sleepwalking and what it has to do with this story. Sleepwalking is called somnambulism or noctambulism in the medical world and is a phenomenon characterized by walking around, unknowingly, while asleep. It usually occurs during slow-wave sleep stages and can be a very dangerous condition to have.
No one knew for sure but it seemed like something had simply snapped inside Steven. All the nagging and demanding, the lack of sex, the screaming, and shouting; the year was 1981 and it was a warm evening in May. What happened next was almost unexplainable…
At one point around midnight, Steven got up from his bed, walked all the way to the kitchen to grab a large carving knife, returning to the bedroom to viciously stab his wife 26 times in what can only be described as a frenzied attack. Blood splattered the walls and ceiling, and Traci witnessed the whole horrific incident. But Steven claimed he had no recollection of what had occurred that night.
When police arrived at the gruesome murder scene, Steven lied and told them a burglary had taken place and gone badly wrong. Detectives weren’t buying that story, but soon enough Steven changed it claiming that it was his sleepwalking that was to blame…
Driven To It
When it came time for the trial, Steven’s defense attorney, Bob Hirsh, claimed that his client had been married for years to a “Jewish American Princess” wife, who had driven him mad, literally to the point of murder. The defense also claimed that their client was not responsible for the death of his wife as he was in a “disassociative state” at the time when he stabbed her, due to the fact he was sleep walking.
The defense brought witness after witness to allege that their client was not guilty. But how could Steven have stabbed his wife 26 times if it wasn’t premeditated? Dr. Martin Blinder, a highly respected California psychiatrist, testified that the murder was committed under a scenario of “dissociative reaction,” and that fact got Steven Steinberg acquitted within a short time period…
Steven claimed he had no recollection of stabbing his wife, saying he was “not guilty.” The shocker in this case, due to Arizona law at the time meant that the jury had to find Steinberg not guilty as he had been asleep at the time of the crime. He walked free…Scott free.
Attacking the Victim
The case was heavily publicized and drew a lot of attention for a variety of reasons; especially from those who saw this as a new legal precedent. Steinberg’s defense team, comprised of three attorneys, decided the best strategy was to attack the victim, Elana. The attacks were so vicious that even in her absence, Elana’s family had a lawyer in court to protect her reputation, even though she was now dead…
This case was certainly one of the most unprecedented and bizarre of its time. It was even reported that one juror said about the man they acquitted, “The guy shouldn’t have been on trial. He should have had a medal,” in a reference to how badly Steven was hassled and nagged by his wife Elana.
It wasn’t just Elana’s family who were outraged by the not guilty verdict; most of America was up in arms, wondering how Steinberg could have possibly gotten away with literal murder. However, it was what Judge Marilyn Riddel instructed the jury that sealed that verdict. She told them that they couldn’t go for second-degree murder; just first-degree or not guilty, and that forced them to return the not guilty verdict. When it came down to it, temporary insanity was the end result…
This case was groundbreaking as the laws relating to temporary insanity in Arizona were changed as a result of Steinberg. After the case, the state amended the law to bring the burden of proof onto the defendant who would need to serve jail time at a state-run secure hospital even if they were considered “guilty but insane.”
One of the most striking things about this case was Steven’s character. He was jovial, light-hearted and considered by all to basically be a “nice guy.” Sure he had a small gambling addiction but that didn’t make him a murderer. Nevertheless, due to his personality, Steven had a lot of support from a lot of people at the time…
No matter where one stands on this case there’s no doubt about it: An innocent woman was brutally murdered, while her two daughters had to face the reality of the fact that it was their father who had killed their mother. Thankfully, Steven did the right thing…
At least the Steinberg’s kids were given some hope for the future, even if their mother had been killed. In wanting to do the right thing, Steinberg signed custody of both his daughters over to Elana’s parents, where they would have the chance of a normal upbringing and a more stable life.