Skye Borgman wants viewers of her new Hulu true-crime documentary Dead Asleep to come to their own conclusions about whether Randy Herman Jr. was sleepwalking when he killed his 21-year-old roommate, Brooke Preston, at their West Palm Beach, Florida home on March 25, 2017.
The now 28-year-old Herman is currently serving a life sentence for first-degree murder at Hardee Correctional Facility in Bowling Green, Florida, according to The Palm Beach Post, after the jury rejected his defense that he was sleepwalking during the murder and did not remember fatally stabbing Preston over 20 times.
But Borgman waited to reveal that outcome until the end of the doc. Herman is currently seeking a new trial, the Post reports, on the grounds that he says his attorneys did not provide him a proper defense in advising him to plead insanity.
“I don’t know if he was sleepwalking or not, and so for me to go out there and say, ‘He was sleepwalking,’ or ‘No, he wasn’t sleepwalking’ — I don’t know. Every single time I would talk to Randy, I’d be like, yeah, he was totally sleepwalking. And I’d talked to somebody else and be like, ‘He wasn’t sleepwalking.’”
Borgman, who was also behind Netflix’s popular Abducted in Plain Sight true-crime documentary, said she worked hard to maintain a “pendulum” feeling in Dead Asleep, allowing viewers to swing back and forth on feelings of sympathy for Herman, and, conversely, repulsion.
“It was hard on this one. I have to say, we really — the editors and I really went back and forth a lot, because one thing we talked about from the very beginning is we really wanted that pendulum to swing. I wanted you to feel sympathy for him, and then I wanted you to kind of question that sympathy,” Borgman said.
“A lot of times it was stuck on [one] side, and then we had to go in and get it back. But it’s just such a nuanced thing, and it comes from trial and error and trying and putting things in and taking them out and really trying to walk that balance beam and giving everybody the information they need,” she added. “Everything that I edit, everything that I put together, has my personality behind it, has my perspective behind it — but I really wanted to put a story out there that didn’t make you at the end of the film have a determinant feeling of whether or not Randy was sleepwalking.”
The family of the victim, Brooke Preston, declined to be interviewed for the documentary.
If she hadn’t gotten Herman and his family to participate, she says she probably wouldn’t have made the documentary.
“I think it would have been a challenging documentary to make if we didn’t have one or the other — either Brooke’s side or Randy’s side,” she said.
During the making of the doc, Borgman visited Herman in prison to interview him on camera. But before she got to that phase of production, she first began writing him letters to establish a rapport. Then she reached out to the prison for approval to film there — some states allow cameras inside while others don’t — and finally, she asked Herman if he wanted to be interviewed on camera. She said it didn’t take much convincing.
“Randy obviously wanted his story to be told in a deeper way rather than it being just a newspaper headline about his story. He wanted to get a little bit more of his life story across. So I think he had certainly motivations in telling his story, which were quite different from my motivations of telling the story,” she said. “I really wanted to look at whether or not sleepwalking was something that could happen.”
Dead Asleep begins streaming Thursday, Dec. 16 on Hulu.
Main Image: Randy Herman Jr. and Brooke Preston shown in the documentary Dead Asleep courtesy of Hulu.