January 23, 2022

Hulu’s ‘Lifeless Asleep’ Probes Randy Herman Case Who Stabbed Brooke Preston 25 Instances and Mentioned He Was Sleepwalking

5 min read

Of all of the potential homicide defenses a suspect would possibly strive, few are as daring because the one tried by Randy Herman Jr.

On March 25, 2017, Herman known as police in West Palm Seashore, Florida, advised them that he had dedicated murder, and to return choose him up at close by Haverhill Park. Upon being detained, he confessed to authorities that he had fatally stabbed considered one of his roommates, 21-year-old Brooke Preston, a surprising 25 occasions. The catch was that Herman stated he didn’t keep in mind doing this; somewhat, he’d woke up to seek out himself standing over her physique, a bloody knife in his arms. If Herman had no reply about how this might have taken place, nonetheless, his attorneys quickly did: he’d slain his shut pal whereas sleepwalking.

Director Skye Borgman’s Lifeless Asleep (Dec. 16 on Hulu) takes a non-fiction look into this tale, which attracted appreciable media consideration due to Herman’s authorized technique. Herman himself seems within the movie, as do a few specialists who declare that it’s potential for sleepwalkers to unconsciously perform brutal assaults and to not be roused from their slumbering state even when they themselves endure accidents throughout these melees (as Herman himself did, on his arms). In Herman’s explicit case, he wound up becoming nearly each medical criterion for somebody susceptible to “violent parasomnia,” together with the truth that he had a historical past of sleepwalking, cherished his sufferer, had suffered a chronic interval of non-public stress and poor sleep, didn’t make any effort to cowl up his crime, and had amnesia concerning the occasion in query.

Prosecutors weren’t shopping for that protection, regardless of that it had labored in a handful of different out-of-state trials. Lifeless Asleep, nonetheless, treats it critically, all whereas digging into the historical past of Herman and Preston’s relationship. The 2 had grown up collectively in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, however selected to maneuver to Florida when Preston’s sister Jordan received a job supply down there. Collectively, the trio lived in a three-bedroom, one-bathroom home, sharing a cushty brother-sister dynamic that one psychologist neatly compares to Herman’s childhood upbringing together with his mom Kathi Adams and sister Amanda Cona. By all accounts, Herman had no romantic curiosity in Preston, and their social media accounts have been stuffed with happy-go-lucky pictures and movies of them hanging out collectively, and infrequently ingesting to extra, on the seaside and at events hosted at their new residence.

Lifeless Asleep is bolstered by posts from Fb, Twitter and Instagram, in addition to by Herman and Preston’s text-message conversations, all of which afford a peek inside their private-made-public lives. Quite a few audio system touch upon Herman’s nonviolent character, his genial sweetness, and his unremarkable bodily dimension as a way of suggesting that he didn’t have a monstrous bone in his physique. His mother talks about childhood sleepwalking bouts through which Herman would wind up on the bar the place she labored (having ridden there on his bike), or would climb up on kitchen cupboards. To them, and to forensic sleep psychologist Dr. Mark Pressman, this sample implied {that a} sleeping Herman may have been aroused by an exterior stimuli and subsequently murdered Preston, whom he wouldn’t have acknowledged in his zonked situation.

Consider that Herman’s personal abusive and largely absentee dad was additionally a killer—having taken the lifetime of his girlfriend, after which himself, years earlier—and most of the sleepwalking-justification items started to suit. Lifeless Asleep, although, isn’t an open-and-shut affair. Director Borgman employs a big selection of video materials to dig into this story, from dashcam and residential surveillance footage, to clips from police interviews with Herman, the Prestons and acquaintances. Most important amongst these people is pal Kyle McGregor, who informs regulation enforcement that on the night earlier than the homicide, Preston had requested him (by way of textual content) to return choose her up as a result of a drunken Herman was appearing “belligerent and stumbling throughout.” When Kyle confirmed up, Preston apparently discovered Herman bare in her closet, his finger to his lips to maintain her from revealing his presence. To Herman’s defenders, this was simply blitzed conduct. To prosecutors, nonetheless, it steered an out-of-control child with a latent “sexual curiosity” in his roommate.

When Kyle confirmed up, Preston apparently discovered Herman bare in her closet, his finger to his lips to maintain her from revealing his presence.

The revelation that Herman was within the throes of melancholy and alcoholism—as a result of frustration together with his going-nowhere life and his squandering of his inheritance—helps underscore the younger man’s determined mindset. But extra central to Lifeless Asleep, and the state attorneys’ case, seems to be one thing easier: a timeline of occasions, based mostly on statements made by Herman himself. In keeping with the accused, in addition to corroborating video from the road, Preston returned to their home within the early morning of March 25 to choose up the final of her belongings, as a result of she was shifting to New York to be along with her boyfriend. There, she obtained a T-shirt from Herman—which means he had been awake when she arrived. Twenty or so minutes later, Herman exited the place and drove to the park the place he known as 911. Consequently, Herman’s personal account hinged on the notion that, within the span of lower than a half-hour, he had seen and interacted with Preston, fallen asleep whereas she was of their house, after which repeatedly stabbed her.

Even an interviewed juror admits that this was the important thing level that cinched the case for the prosecution, though Lifeless Asleep nonetheless permits Herman’s public defender Joe Walsh to answer the argument that Herman couldn’t have been sleepwalking after solely hitting the pillow a few minutes prior. His response—that perhaps all the things Herman thinks he skilled that morning was truly a dream—underscores the grasping-at-straws nature of this line of reasoning. The director’s recreation of the slaying by way of mannequin miniatures, together with courtroom testimony by Herman and competing psychologists, moreover weakens Herman’s protection, to the purpose that even the boy’s mom in the end can solely state that she doesn’t know what to say about her son, aside from that she’ll stand by him till the day she dies.

The Prestons’ choice to not take part in Lifeless Asleep robs it of a beneficial piece of its puzzle. Nonetheless, it doesn’t require their enter to color a damning portrait of Herman and his unconvincing rationalization for Preston’s demise; by considered and clear-sighted use of talking-head commentary and current multimedia proof, it exposes the reality about this going-to-any-lengths try at evading justice.

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