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Man kills his 4-year-old son and slits his throat while sleepwalking

By Mason White 5:01 PM March 12, 2015
Blake Mitchell 

By: Wayne Morin
(Scroll down for video) A man was arrested on charges of murder after killing his son in middle of the night, prosecutors in North Carolina said.

However, Joseph Mitchell was found not guilty by a jury after claiming that he was sleepwalking during the attack.

In court, Mitchell blamed automatism in connection with the strangulation death of his 4-year-old son Blake. He also attacked his two other children and his wife in their home in Durham.

After attacking his family, Mitchell locked himself inside a bathroom, where he stabbed himself and cut his throat. Prosecutors argued that Mitchell was angry with his family because of tension caused by financial problems.

Mitchell rejected a plea deal with prosecutors, which called on him to plead guilty to second-degree murder and receive a 43 year prison sentence.

Mitchell chose to fight the charges using the automatism defense.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. George Corvin said that Mitchell was probably suffering from a sleep disorder that caused him to perform random acts.

Corvin said that lack of sleep and stress of unemployment may have led to the condition.