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Slender Man stabbing case may still be moved to juvenile court

Defense attorney Anthony Cotton speaks to reporters in Milwaukee on Friday, March 13, 2015 after a judge decided to try the two 12-year-old suspects in the Slenderman stabbing case as adults. The two girls told detectives the attack was an attempt to please Slenderman, a fictional character they found on a horror website. If convicted, they could be sentenced to 65 years. (AP Photo/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Michael Sears, Pool)

Defense attorney Anthony Cotton speaks to reporters in Milwaukee on Friday after a judge decided to try the two 12-year-old suspects in the Slender Man stabbing case as adults. (AP Photo/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Michael Sears, Pool)

Even though a judge decided Friday to keep the case in adult court, two girls accused of stabbing a classmate in order to please a fictional character still have a chance of being adjudicated as juveniles.

After Friday’s ruling, attorneys made a motion for a reverse-waiver hearing, which has been scheduled for June. The hearing’s main purpose will be to determine whether adult court is the right place for the case.

Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren ruled Friday that there was probable cause to charge Anissa Weier, 13, and Morgan Geyser, 12, with first-degree intentional homicide in the stabbing of Payton Leutner.

Bohren said the defense did not establish probable cause for second-degree attempted intentional homicide. More specifically, he said, the defense did not establish the affirmative defenses under Wis. Stat. 940.01(2)  that would have indicated that the charge should have been second-degree intentional homicide.

Bohren’s ruling also established that the affirmative defenses may be introduced at the preliminary hearing, based on the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling in State v. Tolliver and the state Court of Appeals ruling in State v. Kleser.

Anthony Cotton, attorney for Morgan Geyser, said he respected the judge’s decision but said he was disappointed in the ruling. He said that he and his client will now be putting their energies into preparing for the  reverse-waiver hearing set for June 16 and June 17.

Before the ruling, attorneys for both girls emphasized that the motive for the stabbing was the belief that Slender Man would kill their families.

The girls have been charged with stabbing Payton Leutner 19 times and leaving her for dead in the woods May 31 after a sleepover in order to please the fictional character Slender Man. All three girls were 12 at the time of the stabbing. Leutner has recovered.

The preliminary hearings were held Feb. 16 and Feb. 17.

Attorneys for both girls argued for dismissal of the charge because their clients believed Slender Man would have killed their families if the girls had not attacked their friend. A dismissal would have let prosecutors refile the case in juvenile court.

Prosecutors argued for the case to stay in adult court because evidence during the preliminary hearings suggested that there was probable cause for first-degree intentional homicide.

On Dec. 18, Bohren ruled that both girls were competent for trial.


About Erika Strebel, erika.strebel@wislawjournal.com

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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