Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sleepkilling

A 59-year old man and his wife of 40 years were vacationing in a camper. As they were getting ready for bed, some youths began racing outside. The couple moved their van to higher ground and bedded down.

Early the next morning, an emergency operator received a phonecall from the man who said he had killed his wife "in a dream." During the phonecall, he explained that he had dreamt one of the racers had crawled across the bed and put him in a headlock. He fought the boy. When he awakened, his childhood sweetheart lay dead.

Both of the couple's grown daughters told attorneys the man had a sleeping disorder; he was known to "sleepwalk" and his behavior was sometimes strange during these episodes. At first, neither police nor prosecutor believed him, but after consulting sleep experts who observed the man as he slept, the prosecution decided to push for a "not guilty by reason of insanity" verdict. The defense is arguing for a simple "not guilty" verdict. Jurors were told they could find the man "not guilty" or "not guilty by reason of insanity."

Sleep experts said the man was asleep at the time of the murder and that he suffered "automatism" - a state during which his mind was not in control of his body. Further details are not forthcoming, as experts and officials seek to prevent copycat crimes. However, I can personally attest to such a state as I have personal experience with such. Of course, nobody asked me...

The man's emergency call was played during the trial. The man broke down in tears during both the original call and its playback in the courtroom. The content of the call also seemed to corroborate his story.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

1 comment:

  1. Though upset that he was held in custody for some 10 months awaiting trial, Brian Thomas was released from custody by the judge, who had informed jurors to find him not guilty. He also called Mr. Thomas a "devoted husband."

    The jury found Brian Thomas not guilty of murder in his wife's death.

    Our condolences to all of the family and friends, and our sincerest and best wishes go out to the Thomas family.

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