An attorney for one of two preteen girls accused of stabbing a classmate 19 times outside Milwaukee asked for a court-ordered evaluation of his client to determine her mental health. The evaluation will be used in efforts to have the case moved to juvenile courts.
The two girls were charged in adult court for the May 31 stabbing of a classmate. According to court documents, both girls told police they intended to kill because they thought their actions were being directed by Slender Man, a mythical character that exists on Internet horror sites. The girls told police that they had planned to join the character in the northern Wisconsin woods after the killing.
Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren agreed to allow for a mental health exam within 15 days of Wednesday’s hearing. Attorney Anthony Cotton said his client showed signs of mental illness, and the exam, conducted by the Wisconsin Forensic Unit, will be used to determine if the girl is fit to stand trial in adult court.
“We have an obligation to raise competency when we have reason to doubt it,” Mr. Cotton said to reporters outside court.
Attorneys for the other girl did not ask for a similar examination. She is being represented by the local public defender’s office in Waukesha, which said it was seeking more information about the case from prosecutors in its attempts to move the case to juvenile court.
An Associated Press review of the Wisconsin court system found that only seven of 240 people under 17 charged as adults in 2012 had their cases moved to juvenile court. State law requires prosecutors to charge children 10 and older as adults in the more serious cases, including homicide.
The Monitor is not naming the girls until courts decide whether they will stand trial in adult or juvenile court.
Both girls were charged as adults with first-degree attempted homicide. Moving both cases to juvenile court will avoid a lengthy prison term and exposure to the death penalty. If the case is reversed and tried in juvenile court, they could be released when they reach age 25; in adult court, they may face up to 65 years in prison each.
Through their attorneys, both girls and their parents have apologized for their actions. They are currently held in a juvenile detention center in West Bend, Wis., on a $500,000 bond.
On Monday, the victim's parents asked supporters to post photos of themselves wearing purple, the girl’s favorite color, to a special Facebook page that is soliciting funds for her medical costs. Her family also is raising awareness via Twitter hashtag #heartsforhealing.
Through a statement, her parents said their daughter is recuperating. “Our daughter has already received dozens of purple hearts, along with other care packages, letters and well wishes, and for this we can't thank the community enough,” they said. They asked not to be named in the media.
Judge Bohren also ruled that the news media cannot show the faces of both girls even though they are being tried in adult court. A motion filed Tuesday by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association says there is no cause for restrictions since images of the girls were broadcast widely following the news of the stabbings, but Bohren denied their request.
The next court date for both girls is July 2.