By TODD RICHMOND
WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — One of two Wisconsin girls accused of stabbing a classmate to please the horror character Slender Man should face a lesser charge in juvenile court because she thought she had to kill her friend to protect herself and her family from the creature, her attorney argued Monday.
Each girl faces one count of being a party to first-degree intentional attempted homicide in adult court in connection with the May incident. Their cases have reached the preliminary hearing stage, where a judge decides whether enough evidence exists to order a trial.
Defense attorney Anthony Cotton began the two-day proceeding by declaring that the evidence will show his 12-year-old client should really face a second-degree attempted intentional homicide charge in juvenile court. He argued she believed she had to kill 12-year-old Payton Leutner because she had a deal with Slender Man that called for her and her co-defendant to kill someone so they could become the creature’s servants. If they didn’t follow through, Slender Man — described in online horror sites as standing between 6 feet and 14 feet tall with tendrils sprouting from his back — would attack both girls and their families.
Cotton tried to show the girl believed Slender Man was real, introducing multiple sketches of him from her notebook. The drawings were accompanied with phrases such as “never alone,” ”safer dead” and “can’t run.”
Waukesha Police Detective Shelly Fisher testified that Leutner had recounted how she had wanted to end her friendship with Cotton’s client because the girl had become obsessed with Slender Man and was getting “scarier and scarier and weirder and weirder.”
“It’s absolutely clear (the girl) believes in him,” Cotton told reporters outside court.
However, Waukesha Police Detective Thomas Casey testified that the girl told him that her co-defendant believed Slender Man would kill them and their families if they didn’t go through with the stabbing. Later, she said she didn’t know why they did what they did.
The detective said the browser history on Cotton’s client’s family computer showed searches on how to get away with murder. During the interview, she asked him if he was going to cut off her head, he said.
“I think (the girl) had an infatuation with death and killing,” Casey said.
The two girls blamed each other during initial interviews with the police, detectives testified.
Cotton’s client accused her friend of stabbing Leutner first, Casey testified, even though Leutner told detectives that Cotton’s client did all the stabbing.
The second girl was 12 during the attack and has since turned 13. Her attorneys tried to paint her as a terrified tag-along. Detective Michelle Trussoni testified that the girl told her she refused to kill Leutner and turned her back during the attack.
Cotton’s client was led into court in shackles, wearing a plaid button-up shirt over a Batman T-shirt. She spent much of the day hunched over the defense table, scribbling on a legal pad. The older girl was in shackles as well. She wore dark slacks, a dark jacket and a green shirt. She sat up straight during most of the proceedings.
The defense teams were expected to present their witnesses Tuesday. It’s unclear when Judge Michael Boren will make a decision on a trial. Prosecutors ended the day Monday by asking him to review some six hours of videotaped interrogations.
According to court documents, the girls told detectives they had been planning to kill Leutner for months. They lured her to a park on May 31, where she was stabbed 19 times. The alleged attackers were found walking toward the Nicolet National Forest, where they say they thought they would join Slender Man.
The Associated Press isn’t naming the alleged attackers because their cases could end up in juvenile court, where proceedings are secret.