Man kills his 4-year-old son and slits his throat while sleepwalkingBy Mason White 5:01 PM March 12, 2015
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.