In Slender Man appeal, teen challenges decision to try her as adult when she was 12

Blog note: A demonic attack on a young mind that in turn physically attacks another. The devil roams the earth seeking whom he can devour. Yes, a deception and lie foisted on a young troubled-mind, the weak among us. Picture, movie, song, book, video game, lyric, internet meme. It doesn’t matter. Satan uses whatever ammunition is available and at his disposal. He knows each target’s ‘weakest link’ and concentrates his attack accordingly. He has more weapons at his disposal now than at any other time in human history. End of note.

‘Slender Man’ is a demonic image or character that is deceptively pitched as an internet meme.

In Slender Man appeal, teen challenges decision to try her as adult when she was 12

Bruce Vielmetti. USA TODAY•January 7, 2019

MILWAUKEE – In a brief seeking to discharge the conviction of one of the girls in the Slender Man case, her lawyer argues that because Morgan Geyser believed Slender Man would kill her family if she didn’t kill her sixth-grade friendGeyser should not have been prosecuted as an adult.

That belief made Geyser’s knife attack attempted second-degree intentional homicide, the appeal argues, and that crime, unlike the first-degree version, belongs in juvenile court.

The appeal also argues that Geyser, who was barely 12 when she was arrested, couldn’t really understand what rights she gave up when she agreed to speak alone with a detective in custody and delivered a disturbing confession on video.

Geyser, now 16, was diagnosed after her arrest with early-onset schizophrenia, which went untreated for months until a different judge ordered her committed for care in a civil proceeding.

She and Anissa Weier, 17, have each been committed to a state mental hospital after they were found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in the infamous Slender Man case.

Aug. 8: ‘Slender Man’ won’t show in Milwaukee because same meme inspired real case

Feb. 1: Second Slender Man stabbing defendant committed for 40 years

After a sleepover to mark Geyser’s 12th birthday in May 2014, they lured classmate Payton Leutner to some woods near a Waukesha, Wisconsin, park, stabbed her 19 times and left her to die as they began walking to a forest where they thought they would live in Slender Man’s mansion.  

But a passing cyclist found Leutner, who had crawled to a path, and she survived after multiple surgeries. Geyser and Weier were taken into custody a few hours later near Interstate 94.

The issues raised in Geyser’s appeal were each litigated extensively before Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren, who ruled against the defense on those and other points.

Geyser’s trial attorney first raised the issue of attempted second-degree homicide at her preliminary hearing. Bohren agreed Geyser acted in what is called “imperfect self-defense,” due to her belief that Slender Man – a shadow internet villain – would harm her or her family if she didn’t kill Leutner.

But he said he thought she had other motives as well, such as proving to others that Slender Man was real, that supported the first-degree charge and therefore required her case to remain in adult court.

December 2017: Slender Man stabbing defendant sentenced to mental hospital for 25 years

August 2017: Girl in Slender Man stabbing case pleads guilty to lesser charge

The appeal argues that since prosecutors failed to rebut the first part – that Geyser honestly believed she had to kill or be killed – the offense should have been attempted second-degree homicide and prosecuted in juvenile court.

Confession challenged

After her arrest the day of the stabbing, Geyser made several statements to police, including during a long, recorded interrogation by a detective without a lawyer or her parents present.

Both Geyser and Weier sought to suppress their statements, but based on testimony from the arresting officers and detectives who interviewed the girls – and the recorded statements – Bohren denied the defense motions.

Geyser’s appellate attorney, Matthew Pinix, points out in his brief that just three weeks later, Geyser was found incompetent to proceed in the case based on her age, unfamiliarity with her rights and the legal system, and her mental illness.

Suspects must be warned about their rights to remain silent or have a lawyer, but can also agree to waive those rights. But the waiver must be “intelligent, knowing and voluntary,” and Pinix called it “a mockery” to suggest Geyser’s agreement to talk met those standards.

September 2016: 2nd girl pleads insanity in Slender Man stabbing case

July 2016: Court: ‘Slender Man’ suspects stay in adult court

“It took three months of targeted education (after she was arrested and found incompetent) for Geyser to gain sufficient knowledge such that she understood the legal system and her constitutional rights, including her right to counsel,” the brief states.

Given the circumstances, Geyser’s statements during more than seven hours in custody were involuntary, said Pinix, who notes that the police conduct involved doesn’t have to be “egregious or outrageous to be coercive.”

When Geyser asked during the interrogation whether she’d regret talking or wind up dying in prison, the detective told her he was just trying to help her.

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