A judge in Waukesha says two girls accused of trying to kill a classmate to impress the online horror character Slender Man will remain in adult court.
Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier were 12 years old in May of 2014 when they allegedly lured their 12 year old friend into the woods and stabbed her 19 times. The victim survived.
The suspects were charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide at the time of the incident, automatically placing them in adult court under state law.
Attorneys for the girls wanted the cases transferred to juvenile court, where the girls could only face five years behind bars. They contended the girls could not get necessary mental health treatment in the adult system. But, Circuit Judge Michael Bohren rejected the defense’s arguments.
“What they’ve done, they’ve committed an offense that is serious, it’s frankly vicious. It was a premeditated attempt to kill someone. There has to be an assurance that it doesn’t happen again. There has to be an assurance to the public that it doesn’t happen again,” Bohren says.
Bohren says he wasn’t convinced the girls would be ready for release at age 18, if they were convicted as juveniles.
After the hearing, dozens of friends and family members of the suspects poured out into the hallway. Many were in tears as they rushed by, declining to be interviewed. One person who did comment on the judge’s ruling was Maura McMahon, an attorney representing suspect Anissa Weier. McMahon says she’s disappointed.
“I’m concerned about talking with her and finding out what questions she has and what steps we are going to take going forward. We’d prefer her in the juvenile court system obviously,” McMahon says.
McMahon and other defense attorneys paraded a panel of psychiatrists and brain development experts before the judge at hearings earlier this year. They tried to convince the judge that transferring the case to juvenile court would not lessen the seriousness of the offense.
Marquette University Law School Professor Janine Geske doesn’t think the girls’ attorneys will try to appeal. Instead, she predicts they’ll craft a defense that wouldn’t result in prison time if convicted.
“They will probably enter pleas of not guilty by mental disease or defect. If they succeed on that, then they’ll be put into a mental health facility and treated as mental health patients vs. adult criminal defendants,” Geske says.
The suspects could face decades in prison if found guilty of attempted first degree intentional homicide. The girls will be back in court again later this month for arraignment.