A man who strangles his son to death said he was sleep walking when the committed the heinous crime.
A 50-year-old father, Joseph Mitchell, has been found not guilty by a North Carolina jury for strangling his 4-year-old son to death because he pleaded he was sleep walking when he committed the crime.
Mitchell killed his son and also tried to murder his two other children on a black night four years ago but in his hearing on March 16, 2015, he pleaded that sleep walking and not conscious when he strangled his son, Blake Mitchell.
The jury had asked Judge James Roberson if they could consider a manslaughter charge for Mitchell instead, but they were told it was either murder or he walks.
The verdict came as a shock to many in the courtroom, particularly Mitchell’s ex-wife Christine Perolini, who had to be taken out on a stretcher after she hyperventilated.
Mitchell’s attack occurred in 2010, during a time when he was struggling financially and not sleeping well.
Prosecutors say that financial distress is what motivated the father to kill his 4-year-old and attempt to kill his other two children, ages 10 and 13.
Prosecutors called a psychologist to the stand, who testified that Mitchell had no mental conditions, leading the prosecution to believe the attacks were premeditated.