A Bridgeport man whose robbery attempt was thwarted by an 81-year-old casino patron was sleepwalking at the time of the crime, his defense attorney claims.
Winston A. Riley, 27, of Bridgeport, was arrested on March 18, two hours after Riley allegedly confronted a Mohegan Sun casino patron with a knife in a parking garage elevator. The two were alone in the elevator at 10:39 a.m. when the woman said Riley flashed a large knife and tried to grab the woman’s purse, police said.
The victim resisted, according to police, and pushed Riley away when he tried to cut the purse loose. Riley fled when the elevator door opened but was tracked by casino surveillance cameras, police said.
Riley, still held in lieu of bail, was in a New London courtroom Wednesday with defense attorney Nicholas D’Amato. Judge Patrick J. Clifford agreed to lower bail from $100,000 to $85,000 — presumably because Riley has a clean record.
D’Amato said he has prepared a “medical defense” that relies on Riley’s history of sleepwalking. D’Amato, of the Bridgeport-based firm Tina Sypek D’Amato LLC, said he has already spoken to Riley’s family to confirm he has been sleepwalking since he was a child.
“It is the first time we’ve encountered this,” D’Amato said. “This is a legitimate medical condition.”
D’Amato plans to argue that Riley wasn’t feeling well and had napped in his car on the morning of the incident. Riley was actually woken up by the woman in the elevator, running away in confusion and fright, he said.
D’Amato said while he has anecdotal evidence, he is in the early stages of gathering medical records in his attempt to gather proof and convince prosecutors they should take the claim seriously.
“This is not going to be an easy defense to present,” D’Amato admits. “We really have the burden to prove this. The prosecutors are not going to drop the case because we say so.”
Police say that after his arrest in Madison, Riley confessed to the crime, but “he did not know why he did it.”
“He had a momentary lapse of judgment,” according to the police report. “He just wanted some money. When she fought back, he became scared and ran away.”
D’Amato said the facts don’t add up.
“I told the judge and prosecutor, ‘Here’s a guy who’s (27), no criminal record, married,’ ” D’Amato said. “ ‘Do you honestly think he woke up one morning, drove across the state and decided to rob a woman’ ” in a place full of security cameras? “It doesn’t make sense if you think about it rationally.”
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