Jury: Wis. girl mentally ill in ‘Slender Man’ case
WAUKESHA, Wis. — A Wisconsin girl who admitted to participating in the stabbing of a classmate to please horror character Slender Man will avoid prison after a jury determined that she was mentally ill at the time of the attack.
Anissa Weier trembled as the jury’s verdict late Friday was read after a week of testimony and 11 hours of deliberations. Her attorney said Weier was relieved and cried after the verdict.
“I’m very thankful to the jurors for taking the time to look at what was really going on with her,” Maura McMahon said, her own eyes wet from crying.
Weier and Morgan Geyser lured classmate Payton Leutner into the woods at a park in Waukesha, a Milwaukee suburb, in 2014. Geyser stabbed Leutner 19 times while Weier urged her on, according to investigators. A passing bicyclist found Leutner, who barely survived. All three girls were 12 at the time.
Geyser has pleaded not guilty to one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide by reason of mental disease or defect. Her trial is set to begin Oct. 9.
Both Weier and Geyser told detectives they felt they had to kill Leutner to become Slender Man’s “proxies,” or servants, and protect their families from the demon’s wrath.
Slender Man, a fictional creature of the internet, is a paranormal being who lurks near forests and absorbs, kills or carries off his victims. In some accounts, he targets children. Some renderings show him as a long-limbed, lean man in a black suit, with no face; others with tentacles protruding from his back.
“This sounds crazy, because it is,” McMahon said. Speaking of Weir, she said, “This was a real being to this child and she needed to protect those around her. At 12 years old, she had no way to protect herself from (Slender Man) except for Morgan’s advice, and they swirled down into madness together.”
Weier, now 15, pleaded guilty to attempted seconddegree intentional homicide in a deal with prosecutors in August. But she claimed she was mentally ill during the attack and not responsible for her actions, in a bid to be sent to a mental institution rather than prison. A plea agreement called for her to spend at least three years in a mental hospital if judged mentally ill, and 10 years in prison if not.
McMahon said she hopes the case reveals that children may be dealing with mental health issues that may be lost on adults too busy to pay attention.
“Life is better for children when adults around them are in communication with each other,” she said.
Deputy District Attorney Ted Szczupakiewicz declined to comment. Leutner’s family left the courtroom in silence; a victim witness coordinator told reporters the family had no comment.
Judge Michael Bohren ordered a pre-commitment investigation report on Weier and said he would hold a hearing to decide how long to commit her after the report is completed. He could sentence her more severely than the plea agreement calls for, including up to a 25-year commitment, the same as the maximum prison time she could have received.
The jury’s verdict came after 11 hours of deliberations, and about an hour after it had appeared to reach a verdict in Weier’s favor only to see it rejected by Bohren.
Anissa Weier was accused of helping a friend stab a classmate nearly to death to please online horror character Slender Man.