Mill Creek man gets 16 years for stabbing his wife to death

It was the culmination of a marriage marred by violence, separation and reconciliation, records show.

EVERETT — A Mill Creek man was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison Thursday for fatally stabbing his wife in February 2017.

“It is true that I did something very wrong,” Matt Alton, 53, said through an interpreter.

Evidence showed that he plunged a kitchen knife 18 times into Norensa Pillias, 66. It was the culmination of a marriage marred for years by domestic violence, separation and reconciliation, court papers show.

What happened was “a huge tragedy,” Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ellen Fair said before announcing Alton’s sentence.

The violence of the attack could not be overlooked, Fair said. She noted that investigators found indications Alton might be living with mental health issues and evidence of cultural complications linked to the family having immigrated from a Chuukese-speaking community in the Western Pacific.

The punishment Fair imposed was in keeping with the recommendation from deputy prosecutors Julie Mohr and Cheryl Johnson, and near the middle of the range under state sentencing guidelines.

Before the hearing, Alton received court permission to speak with Noraine Pillias, his adult daughter who had tried to intervene during the fatal attack.

The reunion happened at a distance, and under the close watch of corrections officers.

Noraine Pillias later spoke to Fair, asking that the court rescind a court order that has kept her father from having contact with her since the killing.

She spoke so softly that it was difficult to hear her words from the courtroom gallery.

The judge had no such difficulty. She rescinded the order, and said that it was clear that Alton had the support of a strong and “extraordinarily kind and generous young lady.”

Alton in March pleaded guilty to second degree murder as lawyers were gearing up for what would have been a jury trial.

The defendant wept in court Thursday, particularly when he talked about his love for his daughter. He recalled the night of the killing, sitting in handcuffs in the back of a police car, and seeing Noraine Pillias talking with police.

He now lives with “great regret,” Alton said.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snorthnews.

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