Two girls from Wisconsin who are charged with attempting to kill a classmate to satisfy the fictional Internet character Slender Man will face trial on October 15, a judge ruled Friday.
Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, who were 12 years old at the time of the crime, have both been charged as adults with attempted first-degree homicide. The defense attorneys in the case are considering appealing the judge’s ruling that the case remain in adult court.
"We are very disappointed with that decision," said Donna Kuchler, one of Ms. Geyser's attorneys.
Under Wisconsin law, prosecutors are required to file adult charges in all homicide or attempted homicide cases in which the accused is over 10 years old. The cut off used to be 12 years old, but a 1991 shooting by an 11-year-old boy prompted lawmakers in Wisconsin to lower the age at which an offender must be tried as an adult in 1995.
Bonnie Ladwig, the former Republican representative who authored the new law, told CBS News last year that charging the girls as adults was "the right thing to do."
"Obviously these girls have been planning this since December so this wasn't just an accident," she said.
According to police, the girls stabbed their friend 19 times and left her in the woods for dead. A bicyclist found the victim and she has since recovered. The girls reportedly told law enforcement that they had planned to kill their friend in an effort to please the Slender Man in hopes of joining him in his home.
“Some juvenile justice experts say such a motive points to a confused mental state or stunted emotional development – reasons often cited for not trying minors as adults," the Monitor's Mark Guarino wrote.
“If the girls are tried and convicted in adult court, the ramifications could be lifelong. Wisconsin law states that a person convicted as a juvenile must be released from the system at age 25. If the girls are convicted as adults, they could face up to 65 years in prison,” the Monitor reported in February.
Some experts have criticized giving juveniles long, mandatory sentences.
“These mandatory adult sentences are highly controversial for many reasons. Not all juvenile offenders will commit crimes years later, as adults. Efforts to predict which juveniles will and will not continue to offend, regardless of treatment and rehabilitation efforts, have been largely unsuccessful,” wrote Tina Freiburger, associate professor and chair of the criminal justice department at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, in her blog for The Huffington Post.
Geyser’s attorneys now say that their client should be placed in the juvenile system where she would receive adequate treatment for mental illness.
This report contains material from the Associated Press.