Saturday, May 8, 2010

Murder by sleepwalking?

Will the sleepwalking defense work?

Color me skeptical.

Sleepwalking claimed by Colo. teen in killing case

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) -- A psychiatrist testified that a Colorado teen was sleepwalking when he allegedly shot and killed his 9-year-old brother and wounded and stabbed his mother.

Dr. John Hardy gave his testimony at an ongoing hearing to decide if Daniel Gudino, 14, of Colorado Springs will become one of the youngest people in the state to be charged as an adult with second-degree murder.

Authorities say Gudino told police he shot his brother and mother in 2009 and later added in a recorded statement, "I was hoping it was just a nightmare."

In the weeklong hearing that began Monday, Hardy testified that Daniel Gudino was sleepwalking when the shooting occurred.

Hardy said Gudino has parasomnia and thought he was shooting at ghosts.

Hardy interviewed the boy twice and does not believe he had sufficient criminal intent to support murder charges.

"If somebody is in a narcoleptic sleepwalking mode, as rare as that might be, they're not conscious, even though they can do some fairly complex behavior," Hardy said.

Prosecutors contend Gudino acted willfully when he picked the lock on a gun cabinet with toothpicks, loaded a .22-caliber rifle, shot his brother in his bed then wounded his mother in the shoulder and stabbed her with a knife and scissors.

Hardy said Gudino gave him a step-by-step account of what happened.

The boy told Hardy he had trouble sleeping, heard noises and was concerned there was a ghost in the house. 

He left his bed and tried to sleep on a couch, but saw two shadowy figures that scared him before he went to sleep.

"He remembers as in a dream going down to his brother's room," Hardy testified. "He remembers shooting the ghost, although he told me he saw blood before he shot."

Gudino then went to the kitchen.

"The next thing he remembers is his mother crying while wrestling for the scissors," Hardy said.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Shannon Gerhart asked Hardy how he reconciled his theory about the boy with Gudino's statement to a detective that he was angry that his brother was allowed to stay home from school.

Gerhart also noted that Daniel Gudino had described trying to kill his mother by shooting her between the eyes.

Hardy said he thought the detective had suggested during the interview that Gudino was angry at his brother.