Father Who Strangled His 4-Year Old Son Walks Free Using Sleepwalking Defense

Father Who Strangled His 4-Year Old Son Walks Free Using Sleepwalking Defense

Anthony Mitchell is the second from the right.

Anthony Mitchell in the courtroom, second from the right.

Anthony Mitchell, age 50, is a free man after a jury found him not guilty of violently strangling his son Blake. Mitchell used a defense of “violent sleepwalking” to convince jurors that he could not have consciously murdered his son. He also tried to kill his other two children, but they were able to fend him off. 

The State reports,

Mitchell testified that he was in financial distress and had not been sleeping well.

…a defense expert said Mitchell’s stress and lack of sleep likely resulted in “non-REM parasomnia,” a sleep disorder whose sufferers can perform random acts unconsciously. Because of this disorder, he was incapable of exercising criminal intent, the expert said.

A psychologist who testified for the prosecution after repeatedly interviewing Mitchell said he had no mental condition that would have left him unconscious during the attacks, and that he must have consciously planned them.

Oddly, the judge would not allow jurors to consider a lesser charge of manslaughter, but required them to choose either murder or not guilty. Since jurors had some hesitation whether or not Mitchell’s actions were deliberate, they resorted to not guilty. This is a tragic, horrific situation. Without knowing more details, it is impossible to say whether or not the judge erred by not allowing jurors a lesser conviction option, but something sure reeks to high heaven. At a minimum, Mitchell should be seeking treatment for his condition.

Rachel Alexander

Rachel Alexander is the editor of Intellectual Conservative. She is a senior editor at The Stream, and is a regular contributor to Townhall, the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research, and The Christian Post, and provides weekend news items for Right Wing News. She frequently appears on TV and news radio as a conservative commentator. She is a recovering attorney and former gun magazine editor. She previously served as a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Arizona, corporate attorney for Go Daddy Software, and Special Assistant/Deputy County Attorney for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. As co-president of the UW Political Science Honor Society, she obtained degrees in Political Science and History from the University of Washington, followed by a law degree from Boston College and the University of Arizona. She was ranked by Right Wing News as one of the 50 Best Conservative Columnists from 2011-2017.

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