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Young Suspect Blurs Fantasy and Reality, Expert Says

WAUKESHA, Wis. (CN) - Just as she believes in Harry Potter characters and Star Trek powers, a Wisconsin girl who stabbed her friend 19 times in the woods did so under the direction of the fictional character Slenderman, a doctor testified Tuesday.

Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier were arrested on May 31, 2014, hours after trying to kill Payton Leutner outside Geyser's house where the girls, all 12, had just had a sleepover. Leutner recovered, and her assailants were deemed competent to stand trial as adults on charges of first-degree intentional attempted homicide.

A preliminary hearing before Judge Michael Bohren in Waukesha County Circuit Court these last two days has focused on whether mitigating factors made the attempted homicide a second-degree crime, which would send the case to juvenile court.

The mitigating circumstances, Geyser's attorney, Anthony Cotton has said, are that Geyser believed Slenderman would hurt her and possibly her family if she did not kill Leutner. Her actions were "unnecessary defensive force," he told the packed courtroom Monday.

Weier's attorneys, Joseph Smith Jr. and Maura McMahon, meanwhile have tried to characterize Geyser as the leader and instigator, painting Weier as a normally well-behaved, fearful participant in an action she thought necessary to protect her family.

Dr. Deborah Collins, a psychologist whom the defense hired to interview Geyser six times after the stabbing, took the stand Tuesday, testifying about other ways in which Geyser has blurred fantasy and reality.

The girl, now 13, believes she has the power of Vulcan mind control - a concept she borrowed from one of the "Star Trek" movies - which prevents her from feeling negative emotions, Collins said. Geyser also believes Lord Voldemort, a villain from the Harry Potter series, is real and her friend, the doctor said on the stand.

Collins said the only time Geyser expressed a negative emotion was when the girl believed Collins had the power to keep her from communicating with Voldemort.

On this occasion, Geyser cried, the doctor testified.

Geyser always delivered assertions that Slenderman could hurt her or her family in a "matter-of-fact" way, Collins said.

Shelley Grunke, the correctional officer who booked Geyser into the juvenile detention center on the evening of May 31, 2014, also testified Tuesday for the defense.

Grunke said Geyser seemed to want to be in "constant physical contact" with Weier, who did not respond when Geyser broke the center's rules and hugged her after they had been processed.

Weier's attorneys seized on this as evidence that Weier was a rule follower. They called just one witness to the stand: Lt. Tom Moerman with the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department, who took Weier into custody hours after the stabbing.

"She appeared distraught, very upset," Moerman told the court of Weier.

Initially resistant to telling Moerman why she was scared, Weier said he would think she was crazy, the officer testified.

Eventually, Moerman wrote in his report, she told him "Some people were going to kill my family unless I did something very bad."

Cotton, Geyser's attorney, again showed the court various items belonging to Geyser, including writing, drawings and mutilated toys a private investigator obtained with her parent's permission from her bedroom more than a week after the stabbing.

David Janisch, the private investigator for Geyser's defense, showed the court 61 photographs, some of drawings of Slenderman, his associates and other figures, many with phrases including "Little child, come to me," "He needs no face" and "The last thing you see." The defense produced similar drawings at the Monday hearing, as well as an apparent supply list for fateful May 31 stabbing.

Janisch also showed pictures of seven Barbie dolls, some of which had had limbs cut off and all with drawing and writing on them, including red slashes on their arms and faces and Slenderman symbols in different places on their bodies.

Janisch said Geyser's parents were surprised and saddened by what they found in the girl's room, claiming to have no prior knowledge of the items.

Judge Bohren agreed to review the girls' interviews with police officers in their entirety before making his decision whether there is probable cause to believe Geyser and Weier committed first-degree intentional attempted homicide.

Bohren must decide whether to address Cotton's claims that Geyser committed a second-degree offense now, thus dismissing the case to juvenile court, or later in the hearing.

Cotton told reporters after the hearing that this circumstance is unique in Wisconsin and throws a possible criminal court jury verdict of second-degree intentional attempted homicide into question, since Geyser is a minor and that offense is supposed to be tried in juvenile court.

Neither side gave its closing argument in court. Rather, the defense attorneys will submit written briefs by Feb. 24, with the state submitting rebuttals by March 4. The judge will have a decision by a March 13 afternoon hearing, he told the court.

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