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You Say You Did This In Your Sleep, And You Expect A Jury To Buy It?

Per the Court, Ken Parks

attacked his parents‑in‑law, killing one and seriously injuring the other. The incident occurred at their home, some 23 km. [14 miles] from respondent’s [Parks’] residence, during the night while they were both asleep in bed. Respondent [Parks] had driven there by car. Immediately after the incident, the respondent went to a nearby police station, again driving his own car, and told them what he had done. Respondent claimed to have been sleepwalking throughout the incident.

Mr. Parks was charged with first degree murder and attempted murder. So how did the trial go? Per the Court:

At the trial respondent presented a defence of automatism. The testimony of five expert witnesses called by the defence was not contradicted by the Crown. This evidence was that respondent was sleepwalking and that sleepwalking is not a neurological, psychiatric or other illness. The trial judge put only the defence of automatism to the jury, which acquitted respondent of first degree murder and then of second degree murder. The judge then acquitted the respondent of the charge of attempted murder. The Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the acquittal. At issue here is whether sleepwalking should be classified as non‑insane automatism resulting in an acquittal or as a “disease of the mind” (insane automatism), giving rise to the special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

So does he walk on the “insanity” issue too? The Supreme Court says … the acquittal was proper. Parks did not have a “disease of the mind,” so the trial court properly refused to give the jury that option.


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