Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Automaton Defense

The Fayetteville Observer is reporting that Robert Stewart's defense team may put on an automaton defense.

Basically, scientific literature shows that people on Ambien often sleep walk and sleep live -- (driving, having conversations, etc.). There is some suggestion that Mr. Stewart may have committed the shooting while in an sleep-walking state, induced by Ambien.

If this is true, it is a complete defense to the crimes. To be guilty of murder, you must have the requisite "Mens Rea"-- i.e. mental state and the requisite "Actus Reus"-- i.e. committing the underlying acts.

Mens Rea Defenses-- notably insanity -- argue that, due to the defendant's craziness, they couldn't form the necessary intent.

Automotonism, however, negates the act requirement-- if you do something when you are sleep walking, you don't actually do it. It is not a conscious act.

It will be interesting to see where this one goes (or if the Defense even offers this theory). Read the Observer article on this here.

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