The ol’ not guilty/sleepwalking defense

Lawsuit of the Month for June. And it’s a criminal case.

I once sat in a Wayne County courtroom and watched a defense attorney attempt a most nuanced defense for a drug trafficking case: My client is a drug dealer, she said, but he’s such a good drug dealer that he could never be caught; therefore, he was not dealing drugs when police say he was.

Even Avon Barksdale knew that wasn’t going to fly. [Language NSFW]. And it didn’t. The jury convicted the guy after about a half hour.

Even that defense didn’t have this degree of difficulty.

A 27-year old Connecticut man was arrested and accused of attempting a purse snatching outside of the Mohegan Sun Casino in Bridgeport. His defense: I was sleepwalking. [Norwich Bulletin via ABA Journal].

[His attorney, Nicholas] D’Amato plans to argue that Riley wasn’t feeling well and had napped in his car on the morning of the incident. Riley was actually woken up by the woman in the elevator, running away in confusion and fright, he said.

D’Amato said while he has anecdotal evidence, he is in the early stages of gathering medical records in his attempt to gather proof and convince prosecutors they should take the claim seriously.

In his defense, the defendant, Winston Riley, has no record, and the police report seems to suggest that we’re not really dealing with some career thug.

Police say that after his arrest in Madison, Riley confessed to the crime, but “he did not know why he did it.”

“He had a momentary lapse of judgment,” according to the police report. “He just wanted some money. When she fought back, he became scared and ran away.”
D’Amato said the facts don’t add up.

“I told the judge and prosecutor, ‘Here’s a guy who’s (27), no criminal record, married,’ ” D’Amato said. “ ‘Do you honestly think he woke up one morning, drove across the state and decided to rob a woman’ ” in a place full of security cameras? “It doesn’t make sense if you think about it rationally.”

D’Amato admits the defense will be difficult to pull off. I suggest they start with producing his mugshot:

[Photo from Connecticut Dept. of Corrections]

On second thought, this may work after all.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s