An attempted purse snatching of an 81-year-old women in a elevator would appear a rather everyday crime at a casino in Connecticut. However, the lawyer for Winston A. Riley, 27, says that his client lacked the requisite intent because he was sleepwalking when he allegedly brandished the knife and tried to pull away her purse at the Mohegan Sun casino.
In Riley’s favor, he appears to have a clean record. His counsel says that he can prove a history of sleepwalking and a valid “medical defense.”
He says that Riley had slept in his car on the morning of the incident and woke up in the elevator in the midst of the attempted robbery. Police say that he confessed to the crime and told them that “He just wanted some money. When she fought back, he became scared and ran away.”
Assuming that counsel can establish the defense, it would create a bit of a problem since he could presumably rob people in his sleep while claiming a defense when he was awake. Presumably, when he woke up with purses in his bed, he would realize that he had been on the prowl.
The reaction of a court or a jury to such a defense would be predictably skeptical if not hostile. They may ask why he does not dream that he is working in a homeless shelter or helping old ladies across the street. A plea and sleep-disorder treatment might be the best approach in this case.