It’s the subject of Hulu’s new true-crime film Dead Asleep, which premieres Thursday, December 16, and features Miami New Times staff writer Michael Majchrowicz.
“Mike was great, really, and we learned a lot from the article that he had written,” Dead Asleep director Skye Borgman, who directed the popular Netflix film Abducted in Plain Sight in 2017, tells New Times. “He was able to be that middle ground for us: He wasn’t on the prosecution side. He wasn’t on the defense side. He wasn’t family. He was very neutral.”
Examining the sleepwalking defense Herman put forth at trial, Dead Asleep features police and trial footage, re-enactments, and interviews with Herman, family members, psychiatrists, sleep experts, and Majchrowicz, who was one of the first journalists to interview Herman at Hardee Correctional Institution in Central Florida.
“In storytelling, I’m really interested in swinging that pendulum back and forth,” Borgman says. “I would be thinking that Randy Herman could have been sleepwalking when he killed Preston. And then the next day, I was like, ‘There’s no way he was sleepwalking.'”
In November 2019, New Times published“Despite His Sleepwalking Defense, a West Palm Beach Man Was Convicted of Murder.” It’s a 4,000-word account of what happened on, before, and after the morning of March 23, 2017, when Herman allegedly came to, covered in blood and holding his hunting knife over Preston’s body. Claiming not to have remembered the brutal attack, Herman pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, not because he was clinically insane but because of his sleepwalking “defect.” The jury convicted Herman of first-degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison.
Herman told Majchrowicz, “I knew it had to have been me. I had a knife in my hand, I’m covered in blood, and she’s not moving. It’s like I don’t remember anything from that point.”
In a letter to New Times, Herman put it like this: “I believe what happened in my case could have been the culmination of tremendous stress, depression, trauma, and alcohol that essentially resulted in some unexplainable mental breakdown. I’m beyond sorry…. Part of me feels like I deserve a life sentence…but the other part of me knows I did not intentionally do this and I deserve a second chance in life.”