Verdict reached in sleepwalking molestation case

MARTINEZ, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California jury has returned a split verdict against a man who acknowledged molesting a 9-year-old girl but blamed the incident on a sleep disorder.

A Contra Costa County jury found Ralph Dell not guilty on Wednesday of the more serious charge in the case, but convicted him of a lesser count of lewd acts on a child under 14. The Contra Costa Times reports (http://bit.ly/1maeNnB ) that he faces a maximum of eight years in prison.

The more serious charge carried a maximum life sentence.

Dell's attorney argued during the trial that his client was asleep when he touched the girl at his Pacheco home in 2012. She was having a sleepover with his daughter.

Dell, who is in his mid-30s, said he had a sleep disorder that made him engage in sexual acts while asleep.

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Information from: Contra Costa Times, http://www.contracostatimes.com

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