A Brooklyn Park man charged with killing his wife -- slashing his wife's neck and stabbing her dozens of times -- is claiming that he was defending himself because she had tried to stab him while he slept.

Prince O. Moore Jr., 53, was charged Thursday with second-degree murder in the death of Mauryn E. Moore, 39. He is in custody in lieu of $750,000 bail.

According to the complaint:

Prince Moore called 911 early Tuesday and reported that his wife tried to stab him in his sleep in their apartment on the 8100 block of Zane Avenue N. When police arrived, they found Mauryn Moore face down in the bedroom and Prince Moore lying next to her with his legs over her body.

By her head was a bent knife and a large pool of blood, the complaint said; her neck was cut so deep that knife impressions were left on her spine.

The Hennepin County medical examiner's office found 63 stab wounds to her hands, back, chest and face, according to the complaint.

Prince Moore had minor stab wounds to his neck and chest.

Charles Goah, senior pastor at United Christian Fellowship in Minneapolis, presided at the couple's wedding about four years ago. He said he was shocked at the news and had no indication of any trouble between the couple. He had talked to Mauryn Moore about two weeks ago, he said.

"This is shaking our community and our church," said Goah, whose congregation consists mainly of people from Liberia.

Prince Moore had sung in the church's choir and was on the building committee, but the couple hadn't been active lately, Goah said.

Wayne Doe said he knew Prince Moore when they both lived in Liberia. Moore immigrated to the United States in the mid-1990s. Doe also was stunned by Mauryn's death. The couple were often too busy to socialize, working long hours and attending school, he said. They have no children.

Police hadn't had any domestic-violence related calls to the couple's home, said Brooklyn Park Inspector Todd Milburn.

Hennepin County records indicate that Prince Moore had misdemeanor convictions in the early 2000s for disorderly conduct and violation of an order for protection and assault; none occurred in Brooklyn Park.

Authorities said this was the third domestic-related homicide in Brooklyn Park this year. There have been five homicides in the city this year, the most since 1993.

Domestic deaths aren't random crimes and often have a cycle of violence that police try to break, said Milburn.

The city's police have specific protocol when responding to a domestic call. An officer will immediately take a detailed report from the victim and witnesses. Even if a victim doesn't want to pursue charges, police will still proceed with an arrest if there was an assault or credible threat of an assault, Milburn said. Officers will also contact a domestic violence advocacy group.

"We continue to engage the community and provide education," he said. "There isn't a community nationwide that isn't somehow impacted by domestic violence."

Violent crimes such as homicide, rape, assault and robbery have declined 21 percent in Brooklyn Park this year compared with the same time last year. Since 2007, reports of domestic violence have dropped 25 percent, Milburn said.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482 David Chanen • 612-673-4465