AP NEWS

1 of 2 girls convicted in Slender Man stabbing files appeal

January 7, 2019
FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2017, file photo, Morgan Geyser, one of two Wisconsin girls charged with stabbing a classmate 19 times in 2014 to impress the fictitious horror character Slender Man, enters a Waukesha County Court for a status hearing in Waukesha, Wis. Geyser is appealing her case. The Journal Sentinel reports that Morgan Geyser's attorney recently filed a court brief arguing that Geyser shouldn't have been prosecuted as an adult because the girl believed Slender Man would kill her family if she didn't stab her sixth-grade classmate. (Michael Sears/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP, Pool, File)

WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — One of two Wisconsin girls who repeatedly stabbed a classmate shouldn’t have been tried in adult court because she believed a fictional horror character named Slender Man would attack her family if she didn’t kill the girl, according to an appeal filed by her attorney.

Morgan Geyser’s belief made the attack second-degree attempted intentional homicide, a case that belongs in juvenile court, and not the first-degree version of the crime, attorney Matthew Pinix argued in a recent court filing.

Geyser pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree intentional homicide for the 2014 attack on Payton Leutner, who was stabbed 19 times and left for dead. Investigators said Geyser and co-defendant Anissa Weier lured her from a sleepover to a nearby park in Waukesha. All three girls were 12 at the time.

Geyser, now 16, was ordered to spend 40 years in a mental institution. Weier, now 17, was committed to a mental health facility for 25 years.

Geyser’s appeal also argues that Geyser couldn’t really understand what rights she gave up when she agreed to speak alone with a detective while she was in custody and confessed to the stabbing, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Both Geyser and Weier sought to suppress their statements to law enforcement, but Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren denied the defense motions.

Pinix said it was “a mockery” to suggest Geyser knowingly and voluntarily waived her right to remain silent or to have an attorney. The attorney noted the girl’s age, unfamiliarity with her rights and the legal system, and a mental illness that was later diagnosed.

“It took three months of targeted education (after she was arrested) for Geyser to gain sufficient knowledge such that she understood the legal system and her constitutional rights, including her right to counsel,” Pinix argued in the court motion filed last week.

Given the circumstances, Geyser’s statements during more than seven hours in custody were involuntary, according to Pinix.

The state’s response to the brief is due next month.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com