WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — Two young Wisconsin girls accused of stabbing their classmate to please the horror character Slender Man must stand trial as adults for attempted homicide, a judge ruled Friday.
Both girls face a count of being a party to attempted first-degree intentional homicide, which automatically places them in adult court under Wisconsin law. They each could face up to 65 years in the state prison system if convicted. Both defendants and the victim, Payton Leutner, were 12 at the time of the stabbing.
Both girls’ attorneys have argued that the girls legitimately believed they had to kill Leutner to protect their families from Slender Man’s wrath. Anthony Cotton, an attorney for one of the girls, called his client a schizophrenic in court Friday.
Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren found there was enough evidence to order a trial in adult court.
The defense teams had asked him to dismiss the charges during a hearing last month. They contended second-degree attempted intentional homicide would be a more fitting charge because the girls, as misguided as they were, thought they were defending themselves and their loved ones from Slender Man by attacking Leutner.
Second-degree attempted intentional homicide is a lesser crime that prosecutors would have to pursue in juvenile court. The girls could be held in the juvenile system only until they turn 25.
After delivering a half-hour analysis Friday of statutes governing homicide charges and potential defenses, Bohren rejected the self-defense claims. He noted that the girls also thought killing Leutner would make them Slender Man’s servants, earn them the right to live in his mansion and prove to others the creature was real. Those motivations outweigh self-defense, he said.
The girls’ attorneys promised Friday to keep trying to move the case into the juvenile system. Bohren set hearings on transferring the girls for May and June.
Prosecutors allege the girls had plotted for months to kill their friend. They coaxed her into attending a sleepover at one of their homes in May and the next morning lured her into a wooded park in Waukesha. They stabbed her 19 times and then fled, according to court documents.
Police captured them later that day on city’s outskirts as they were trying to walk to far northeastern Wisconsin’s Nicolet National Forest, where they believed Slender Man lived in his mansion.
A passing bicyclist found Leutner and called for help. According to a criminal complaint, a doctor told investigators that one of the stab wounds just missed her heart.
The Associated Press isn’t naming either of the girls charged in case they end up in juvenile court, where proceedings are closed to the public.