Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Man Claims He Was Sleepwalking While Robbing a Woman at Knifepoint

Winston Riley

Winston Riley

Connecticut man Winston Riley, 27, is accused of attempting to rob a woman, 81, on March 18, at knifepoint in an elevator at the Mohegan Sun casino at 10:39 a.m. The woman told police that Riley had brandished a knife and tried to steal her purse, so she pushed him away and ran. Police arrested Riley a couple of hours later. When arrested, he allegedly confessed to the crime saying that he “just wanted some money,” but that “he did not know why he did it.” It all seemed so clear-cut.

His lawyer, Nicholas D’Amato, now claims that Riley, who has had difficulty with sleepwalking in the past, was actually asleep during the attempted robbery, and didn’t wake up until the woman shoved him. He says that Riley wasn’t feeling well, so he took a nap in his car, and that everything that happened after that is the result of a medical condition involving sleep walking.

In addition, D’Amato argues that because his client is married and has no criminal record, robbery would be out of character for him, “I told the judge and prosecutor… ‘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.’” Of course, asking a jury to accept that Riley did all that in his sleep won’t be easy either.

The prosecutor declined to drop the charges against Riley, who now awaits trial. His bail was lowered from 100,000 to $85,000, presumably because of his clean record.

Automatism: The Sleepwalker’s Defense

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