By TODD RICHMOND
WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — An attorney for one of two Wisconsin girls accused of stabbing their classmate to please horror character Slender Man tried to convince a judge Tuesday to move her case into juvenile court, arguing that his client is mentally disturbed and believed she had to kill to protect herself and her family from the creature.
Taking the stand during the second day of a preliminary hearing, psychologist Deborah Collins testified that she has interviewed the girl several times and concluded she honestly believes Slender Man exists.
“(Her belief) hasn’t wavered and it’s been unyielding to a rational perspective,” Collins testified.
Collins also testified that the girl told her she uses Vulcan mind control to keep negative emotions at bay and believes Harry Potter villain Lord Voldemort visits her when he’s not away on business trips.
A private detective working for the defense testified he discovered more than 60 drawings of Slender Man in the girl’s bedroom. Many of the sketches included notes such as “not safe even in your house” and “he is here always.” One drawing depicted a girl lying on the ground and a person standing over her with the message “I love killing people” written over the figure.
The detective went on to say he found more than a half-dozen Barbie dolls in the bedroom that had been marked with Slender Man’s symbol. Some were missing their hands and feet.
“I think we did a good job showing she believed (Slender Man) was real … across time and environment,” defense attorney Anthony Cotton said. “She believed in Slender Man. She believed he would hurt the family.”
According to court documents, the girls told detectives they had been planning to kill Payton Leutner for months. They are accused of luring her to a park in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha on May 31 and stabbing her 19 times. Leutner barely survived; one stab wound just missed her heart.
The alleged attackers were found walking toward the Nicolet National Forest, where they say they thought they would join Slender Man.
All three girls were 12 years old at the time of the incident. The two alleged attackers face one count of being a party to attempted first-degree intentional homicide in adult court. They each could face up to 65 years in the state prison system if convicted.
Police detectives testified Monday that both girls believed they had to kill their friend and join Slender Man in order to protect themselves and their families from his wrath. Cotton is trying to use that to move his client to juvenile court, where she couldn’t be held beyond age 25.
He contends that since the girl thought she was defending herself a charge of attempted second-degree intentional homicide is more appropriate. Since the girl is under 18, she would face that count in children’s court.
Prosecutors countered that a preliminary hearing — the stage of Wisconsin’s legal process where a judge decides whether enough evidence exists to move to trial — isn’t the proper venue for such an argument. Judge Michael Bohren declined to rule on anything Tuesday, asking all sides to submit briefs. He promised to issue a decision on March 13.
The other girl’s attorneys called only one witness Tuesday, a sheriff’s deputy who arrested their client on the road. He testified the girl told him someone would kill her family unless she did something bad.
The Associated Press isn’t naming the alleged attackers because their cases could end up in juvenile court, where proceedings are secret.