Final Salvos to Block ‘Slenderman’ Trial

     WAUKESHA, Wis. (CN) – Two 13-year-olds are weeks away from going on trial for trying to kill their friend while seized by a fantasy about the fictional character Slenderman.
     Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser were 12 on May 31, 2014, when they stabbed their classmate, Payton Leutner, 19 times. The girls told police they did it to please Slenderman, an online horror character they later claimed would have hurt them and their families if they failed to kill Leutner.
     Leutner recovered from the attack, and her friends were charged as adults with attempted murder.
     Defense attorneys have been unsuccessful in their myriad efforts to get the case tried in juvenile court, from reverse-waiver petitions to evidentiary and procedural claims. Geyser has been diagnosed with early-onset schizophrenia.
     After shooting down the defense’s last attempt on Aug. 10, Judge Michael Bohren scheduled a jury trial in Waukesha County Circuit Court to begin Oct. 15.
     Attorneys for both girls want to appeal the decision keeping the trial in adult court.
     Geyser’s attorney, Anthony Cotton, had wanted to delay trial-court proceedings pending that decision, but the Wisconsin Court of Appeals denied that motion.
     Yet another motion, this one to adjourn the trial for a later date, remains pending.
     “Even if the court of appeals declines to hear the interlocutory petition, the deadlines set by the court will not permit Ms. Geyser’s matter to be properly defended,” the motion states.
     Cotton notes that he is trying another murder case in Waukesha County that same week, and he says scheduling a trial fewer than 60 days after the arraignment gives the defense inadequate time to prepare.
     “Additionally, there have been significant issues with respect to Ms. Geyser’s mental functioning that make a plea of ‘not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect’ increasingly likely,” the motion states. “Should such a plea be entered, the trial will likely be bifurcated into two proceedings, which requires significant additional preparation.”
     Weier’s attorneys, Maura McMahon and Joseph Smith, meanwhile seek to bring in a jury from another county, claiming extensive media coverage makes an impartial panel otherwise impossible.
     They have also asked to suppress statements Weier made during a lengthy police interview, immediately after she was picked up, during which she told officers she and Geyser had planned the stabbing for months and wanted to kill Leutner.
     Judge Bohren should also hold a hearing to determine whether Weier was read her Miranda rights and whether her statements were given voluntarily, the defense says.
     None of the attorneys responded immediately to a request for comment.

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