The two 13-year-olds who, in May 2014, stabbed a classmate 19 times “because Slender Man told them to” are charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and will be tried as adults.
On Monday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren ruled that Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier will not be tried as juveniles, and consequently could face sentences of up to 45 years behind bars. The judge decided to try the pair as adults because he felt that a juvenile trial—where they’d be facing extensive supervision until they turned 18 and only up to three years behind bars—would “unduly depreciate the seriousness of the offense.”
The girls were arrested the same day that they lured Payton Leutner to a sleepover for her 12th birthday and stabbed her repeatedly before leaving Leutner to bleed out in a nearby park.
They told police they were trying to impress or appease Slender Man, a fictional Internet character they believed could kill them or their families if they didn’t kill their friend. They said they hoped to join Slender Man in his mansion in the Nicolet National Forest.
A bicyclist found Leutner, who recovered from her extensive injuries in time enough to start seventh grade last year.
During his ruling, Judge Bohren doubled down on the nature of their crime:
He stressed how the girls began plotting the homicide months earlier, and how, after Leutner had been stabbed, they told her to lie still so as not to lose blood, while they went for help, while in fact they just didn’t want her to be discovered.
Juvenile justice reform advocates maintain that, despite the awfulness of the crime, imprisoning Geyser and Weier as adults won’t be a lesson to other 12-year-olds. They assert that the part of the brain that “could process deterrence is the last to develop, science has shown, often not until early adulthood.”
During trial, it is likely that Geyser, who was diagnosed with early onset schizophrenia, will plead not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
Experts said she continues to converse with fictional characters, concedes that Slender Man might order her to kill again and believes she can suppress negative emotions through Vulcan mind control.
Geyser and Weier’s arraignment is scheduled for August 21.
Contact the author at Hillary@jezebel.com.
Image via AP.