WAUKESHA, Wis. (CN) – A handful of prospective jurors were excused Tuesday in the case of one of two Wisconsin girls accused of trying to stab their friend to death to please a fictional boogeyman, less than a week before her trial begins.
Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, both 15, were charged as adults with attempted first-degree intentional homicide for allegedly trying to stab their friend, Payton Leutner, to death to appease Slenderman, a fictional horror character.
Leutner was found crawling out of woods with 19 stab wounds near Geyser’s home in Waukesha, Wis., the morning after the three then-12-year-old girls had a sleepover.
The case made headlines around the world and the recent HBO documentary “Beware the Slenderman” brought renewed attention to the stabbing.
Weier will face a jury of 12 starting next week, and the trial is slated to run through Thursday, Sept. 21. Up to 150 potential jurors will be considered on Sept. 11, the first day of trial.
During a jury status hearing Tuesday, attorneys for the state and Weier suggested certain jurors be excused and changes be made to proposed jury instructions.
Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren excused several jurors for various reasons and made modifications to the jury instructions, many of which dealt with specific language.
One of the dismissed potential jurors had written “lock her up or death penalty” on their questionnaire. Another was a relative of Weier’s attorney Maura McMahon. Others were excused for vacation, school, work or health reasons.
Weier attended the hearing in person wearing her brown wavy hair down, glasses and a multi-color shirt, with a white cardigan and light colored pants.
On Aug. 21, Weier accepted a plea deal on the lesser charge of attempted second-degree intentional homicide as a party to a crime, with use of a deadly weapon.
Her trial will determine whether she is legally responsible for the crime or not guilty because of mental disease or defect, which is how she initially pleaded.
If she is found not guilty, she will spend three years in a mental hospital. A guilty verdict could mean up to 10 years in prison.
Geyser’s trial begins shortly after Weier’s on Oct. 10 and is expected to run through Nov. 3. She too pleaded not guilty because of mental disease or defect and has not accepted a plea deal.