This is not as strange as it sounds. For those who take sleeping pills such as Ambien, it’s distinctly possible that you can do things in your sleep that you are not consciously aware of. But what about murder?
According to defense attorneys for Randy Allen Hermann Jr., Hermann had no idea that what he was doing when he came-to over the body of his longtime friend Brooke Preston. Preston was set to move away to New York and they had exchanged text messages that indicated that she should wake Hermann up before she left. Of course, that never happened.
Hermann has been charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Brooke Preston. There may be no obvious motive for the killing, but it was Hermann who called 911 after the stabbing occurred and the caught him, quite literally, red handed.
This is Basically an Insanity Plea
The law requires that criminal defendants be aware of the wrongness of what they’re doing. In cases where that sense of morality is impaired by mental illness, defendants have the opportunity to plead insanity.
This is quite different from being declared unfit to stand trial. If a judge declares you unfit to stand trial, it’s because you can’t understand the charges against you and cannot participate in your own defense. In that case, the judge will remand you to the care of a psychiatric facility until they can stabilize you to the point where you do understand the charges against you and can participate in your own defense. You can still plead insanity after that, however.
Insanity pleas are difficult to make and the burden of proof often shifts to the defense in these matters. Essentially, you are admitting that you committed the act but you are saying that you are not responsible for the commission of the act.
Here, the defense is arguing that the defendant suffers from parasomnia, a disorder characterized by abnormal disruptions to sleep. These can include conditions such as night terrors, sleep paralysis, sleepwalking, sexsomnia, and more. In cases of “sexsomnia”, individuals can, without realizing it, up and have sex with other people and retain no memory of the event.
These disorders can be caused by the use of certain medications, such as Ambien or antidepressants, or may be related to neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.
Investigators reported that Hermann, Preston, and Preston’s sister, Jordan, all lived together in a three-bedroom apartment. The obvious question the defense will have to answer is: Why did Hermann’s parasomnia result in violence the night before Preston was about to move away?
The prosecution has a different problem. They have no evidence of a solid motive. Without a legitimate motive, the parasomnia defense could succeed.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
The West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm, P.A. represent criminal defendants throughout the area. If you’ve been charged with a crime, give us a call or contact us online and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.