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  1. #1
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    Is sleepwalking a defense for murder?

    This is a strange one for sure. Should the 14 year old be tried as an adult? Is sleep walking a defense for murder? And, how easy would it be to cover a deliberate murder with that defense if someone really does suffer from a sleep disorder? Interested to know what others think.

    From the article:
    "Marina Gudino told 4th Judicial District Judge David L. Shakes that her son should not be punished for their failure to recognize the seriousness of his symptoms. Doctors testified during the week that the boy suffered from sleep disorders, hallucinations and possibly a developing mental illness."

    http://www.gazette.com/articles/brot...-juvenile.html

  2. #2
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    sad how people can con there way out of murder or rape charges with absurd defenses.

  3. #3
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    I think it is a defence that should be considered. It it wasn't a willfull act then it can't be treated as such.

    However, a sentence has to provide society two things: one, punishment for willfull behaviour and two, protection of society. While it is possible that this may not be a willfull act, and if that is so then the boy shouldn't be punished for that, the argument to show that also shows that they boy is a danger to society and it will be necessary to have him under supervision. For how long who knows, but not in a prison.

    I think that if the court accepts the argument then the judge is going to be faced with a very difficult situation, since the system does not really provide tools with dealing with circumstances like this (which has to be pretty rare).

  4. #4
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    I think it's a presentable viable defense if the child really did suffer from sleep disorders. I'm not saying as a defense strategy that it would win~ just that it isn't too out there.

    But what proof is there of that mitigating circumstance? They would need to have that for sure.

    1. History of sleep disorder documented by Doctor/medical care.

    2. Was the child put on medication for this disorder and the meds play a part in this murder?

    Lots of questions.

    On a personal note: JMHO is that a 14 shouldn't be tried as an adult. I know other's disagree but that is how I think. I stand by my thinking and respect other's thoughts.

  5. #5
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    the whole gist of the defense is that the person was actually sleepwalking. which is just an excuse a guilty person uses to get away with what they are charged with. 'oh that wasnt me, i was asleep'.

  6. #6
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    Well, people do sleepwalk you know.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbl8201 View Post
    sad how people can con there way out of murder or rape charges with absurd defenses.
    Quote Originally Posted by kbl8201 View Post
    the whole gist of the defense is that the person was actually sleepwalking. which is just an excuse a guilty person uses to get away with what they are charged with. 'oh that wasnt me, i was asleep'.
    You may not be acquainted with any sleepwalkers, but it is a real, scientifically recognized condition. Some of my sons sleepwalk, and believe me, if they could snap their fingers and stop, they would.

    A sleepwalker acts out their dreams. Most of us, if we are dreaming we are running will not get out of our beds and our legs will twitch, but not make a complete running motion. This condition (the dreaming of motion, but not acting the motions out) is known as sleep paralysis, and it is a protection for us. As it was explained to me by our family doctor, my sons do not experience sleep paralysis. If they dream they are being chased by a bad guy with an axe, they will run like hell to escape him---and if they feel they are cornered, they will try to protect themselves.

    No medication has ever helped my sons, although the incidences have lessened as they've grown older----or maybe I just don't hear about it anymore, since they live on their own.
    Last edited by kgeaux; 05-14-2010 at 07:04 PM.

  8. #8
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    I don't get the use of the word 'defense' in comments about this - the article makes it clear that the parents are using it as a reason to have him charged as a juvenile, and seem intent on their surviving son facing up to those charges - in other words, they are not trying to 'get him off', but are instead asking the court to set charges that are appropriate for the crime and its circumstances. In addition, given that the parents of the defendant are also the parents of the victim (in addition to the mom being a victim in the attack as well), I would think that their wishes should have some significant weight on the judge's decision here as it would if they were the parents of the victim alone. In the end it seems to me that putting their remaining son in prison for decades at the age of fourteen for an unintentional act would simply be victimizing this family all over again. All JMO.

  9. #9
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    It's hard one for sure!

    From personal experience, my hubby had trouble with sleep walking when we were first married. One night I woke up and he was trying to get out the window and was literally tangled up in the blinds - fighting with them it seemed! He was acting out a dream - dreaming that big cock-roaches and snakes were crawling all over him, but had no control of himself. I desperately tried to wake him up and he finally came too, but not before he cut himself pretty severely.

  10. #10
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    My 7 yr old dd has slept walked since was 3. She has walked outside and tried to get in our car, I have woke up to find her standing beside me or DF and it has scared us to death. I think the defense isn't to far fetched if he has a history of it. It doesn't make what he did ok though.


  11. #11
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    http://www.citytv.com/toronto/cityne...stee-in-durham

    This was a very interesting case.It was even on Unsolved Mysteries a long time ago.

  12. #12
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    There was the case of Brian Thomas, who killed his wife in his sleep in Wales in 2009:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/8364393.stm

    He had a long history of sleep disturbances and when they were at home, he and his wife slept in separate bedrooms.

    They had a camper van and were on a trip; while in the camper van they did not have separate rooms, of course.

    They were at a campground and were made uneasy by "boy racer" activity (squealing tires, etc), so they moved to a different camp spot before going to sleep.

    He dreamt that one of the boy racers was crawling across the bed and putting him in a headlock; when he woke up, he was strangling his wife.

    The couple were described as childhood sweethearts in a very happy marriage. Mr Thomas had a long history of bizarre behaviour during his sleep.

    Additionally, after his wife's death, sleep experts monitored and tested him in prison and confirmed via brain wave monitoring that he did have a rare sleep disorder and that he did indeed walk and carry out other behaviours in his sleep.

    So I'd say that yes, there is a chance that this kid was sleepwalking.

  13. #13
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    this is something, I've actually given some thought. I have a 22 year old daughter, & an 8 year old daughter, & they both sleepwalk. The oldest, walked into my room, squatted on my floor, & was gonna P! lucky I caught her & led her to the bathroom. I caught her another time, in her room...but the weird thing is, is that while doing this, she gets really aggressive, mean, & semi violent. She shoved me HARD against the wall, the 1st time. Another time, I caught her headed for our back steps...there's no telling where she would've wound up. If the cops found her in that condition, there's no way they'd know she was asleep. They'd think she was a very mean drunk. My youngest RUNS in her sleep, & hides behind chairs, & is very hard to get back in bed. I sit up late, & their sleepwalking is 1 of the reasons. My husband has had 1 recent episode that I know of. Our waterbed had a hole in it, so I threw a mattress on the floor for my 8 year old & me. He slept on the bed. I was almost asleep, but a shadow caught my attention. I looked up & there he was, all 240 lbs of him, walking across the bed, & about to step off-straight onto my sleeping daughter! I screamed, 'don't step on C....', & he woke up & started screaming, (like a girl, I might add). He did fall, but managed to avoid her, but landed on his freshly healed broken shoulder. scary stuff. My daughters don't sleepwalk a lot-a few times a year-but they have never remembered 1 thing from their episodes. So, I tend to believe that somebody might commit a crime & not remember it...especially if he was under stress, or had been drinking, or took sleeping pills or something.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbl8201 View Post
    the whole gist of the defense is that the person was actually sleepwalking. which is just an excuse a guilty person uses to get away with what they are charged with. 'oh that wasnt me, i was asleep'.
    Are you aware that side effects of Ambien include sleep walking,sleep eating,sleep driving and sleep sex- to name just a few. All documented.
    I have had people tell their stories which includes one lady who while asleep destroyed a kitchen window trying to get rid of ants that weren't there.

    I have a brother and a daughter who sleep walk- believe me they have no idea what they are doing-
    my daughter once went to sleep wearing one thing and woke up in the morning in something completely different.
    My brother ended up in the ER because while asleep he drank bleach because he thought he was in the kitchen drinking milk.

    So it is absolutely possible that this kid was asleep and unaware of what he was doing- and in my opinion not responsible.
    Zahra
    Hear The Children

  15. #15
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    Nov 2009
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    I know that some people sleepwalk, but this kid shot and killed his younger brother, then shot and stabbed his mother. Those were two separate murderous actions, using a gun and a knife. Did the gun have a silencer? I wouldn't want this kid loose in my neighborhood. I can understand his parents trying to save him, but there is a dead child that was a part of this family. To now claim that the now 14-year old is starting to show signs of mental illness seems like grasping at straws. This boy should have been examined at the time of the shootings by a few skilled and well-respected people trained in mental disorders.

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