WAUKESHA, Wis. (CN) - The jury for one of two Wisconsin girls accused of trying to stab their friend to death to please a fictional boogeyman will be chosen from the county where the crime occurred, a state judge ruled Monday.
Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser are both being tried as adults on attempted first-degree intentional homicide charges for allegedly trying to stab their friend Payton Leutner to death in 2014 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 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’s attorneys filed a motion asking that the jury be chosen from outside Waukesha County or that the case be moved to a different county.
On Monday, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren denied Weier’s motion, saying he is not worried about the publicity surrounding the case and a fair trial could be held in Waukesha County.
Weier’s attorney Maura McMahon expressed indifference toward the motion’s denial.
“I don’t think it will [affect the case]. We’ll present the same case regardless. I hope the jurors will be, as the judge indicated, able to set aside any biases they have,” McMahon said.
Attorneys for both girls, who are facing separate trials, have motioned for the juries to be sequestered, or isolated from the public.
Weier’s attorneys are worried that mock trials conducted in Waukesha by lawyers in Geyser’s case might affect the jurors selected from within the county.
Judge Bohren will decide within 10 days whether the jury for Weier’s trial will be sequestered, noting that what happens outside a jury trial, such as improper reporting of court proceedings, can affect the jurors.
Weier attended Monday’s 2:30 p.m. motion hearing in person, wearing a multi-colored shirt with light-colored pants, with glasses and her brown wavy hair down.
Both girls, now 15, have pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
They admitted to having planned the stabbing for months, in a delusion that it would allow them to live with Slenderman, the fictional character they believed had a mansion in the Nicolet National Forest. The girls were detained hours after Leutner was found, claiming they were on their way to the mansion.
Attorneys for Weier are conveying her as a naïve girl who fearfully participated in Geyser’s scheme.
Geyser has been diagnosed as schizophrenic by pretrial incarceration psychologists who testified that she is unable to separate fact from fiction.
Weier’s jury trial begins Sept. 11 and Geyser’s follows on Oct. 16.
Weier met with her family and lawyers at the local juvenile center following the hearing.
“[Anissa] is focusing on whatever they give her to work on up in West Bend and just trying to wrap her mind around the fact that September is coming and that there will be change,” McMahon said.
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