WAUKESHA, Wis. (CN) – Gearing up for jury trials this fall, the judge overseeing the cases of two Wisconsin girls accused of trying to stab their classmate to death to gratify a fictional boogeyman said Thursday that juror questionnaires will be mailed this summer.
Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser were detained in 2014 hours after trying to murder Payton Leutner in a forest near Geyser’s home after they just had a sleepover.
Weier and Geyser believed that if they killed Leutner, they could live with a fictional horror character named Slenderman in his mansion, which they believed to be in Nicolet National Park. The three girls were only 12-years-old at the time but are being charged as adults with attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
Leutner crawled out of the forest with 19 stab wounds and was discovered by a bicyclist passing by. When picked up by police hours later, Weier and Geyser said they planned the murder for months and were actually on their way to Slenderman’s home.
Status conferences were held Thursday for both Weier and Geyser, ahead of their upcoming trials in September and October, respectively.
Weier’s conference was held first and she attended in person wearing civilian clothes, a white long-sleeved shirt and white pants. Her brown hair was down and she was wearing glasses.
Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren announced that jury questionnaires are to be mailed out to potential jurors on July 5, ahead of Weier’s Sept. 11 trial.
Judge Bohren ran through and tweaked the agreed-upon questions that were submitted by both sides. The mailed questionnaires are meant to streamline the jury selection process, according to Weier’s lawyer Maura McMahon, who also commented on the girl’s condition.
“Anissa seems to be doing well. She’s a child and she’s very resilient. She’s focusing on her studies [in the juvenile detention center],” McMahon said after the status conference.
McMahon suggested during an April status conference that the jurors be sequestered – or isolated from the public – throughout the upcoming trials, which are expected to last about two weeks each.
Judge Bohren, during that same conference, suggested a proposed order which would modify already existing orders in the case, prohibit the public’s use of cellphones and portable devices, and prohibit spectators who leave the courtroom during proceedings from re-entering until the court takes a break.
As for the media, proposals have been made for access to the jury assembly room, media interview rules, seating arrangements and the use of one still and one video camera, with the footage being shared through a pool system.
These proposals have not yet been finalized.
Geyser appeared via a live video feed for her status conference shortly after Weier’s. She was also wearing glasses and civilian clothes – dark pants and a black shirt with a necklace. Judge Bohren ruled that both girls are allowed to wear civilian clothes to hearings.
Jury questionnaires will be sent out on Aug. 16 for Geyser’s jury trial, which begins on Oct. 16.
Now both 15 years old, Weier and Geyser have pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to the attempted first-degree intentional homicide charges against them.
Weier’s lawyers, claiming she didn’t understand her Miranda rights, were unable to get her videotape confession to police thrown out during an evidence hearing in December.
Her attorneys are also trying to put the spotlight on Geyser, saying she enforced the delusion which led to the crime. Weier’s father also took to the stand at a previous hearing trying to paint Weier as a naïve, trusting girl who is willing to please police.
Geyser’s lawyers also failed to get her videotape confession thrown out.
Both girls say the other made the deal with Slenderman to kill Leutner, who has since recovered from the stabbings after multiple surgeries.
“Today, Payton is a strong young woman who is excelling in school and doing many things that a teenager would do with her family and friends,” family spokesman Steve Lyons said in a People article.