A Wisconsin appeals court ruling last Wednesday could spell the next step in the infamous Slender Man stabbing trial. The case garnered national attention when news broke that two 12-year-old girls had allegedly stabbed their classmate 19 times and nearly to death in an homage to the fictional character, Slender Man. Their victim survived the brutal attempt on her life, and the case resulted in the subject of minors being tried as adults being thrust into the spotlight.
As The Guardian reports, the alleged perpetrators of the Slender Man stabbing were not even yet in their teens when they lured their 12-year-old classmate to what they allegedly believed would be her violent death. In 2014, the two 12-year-olds reportedly convinced classmate Payton Leutner to join them in a remote park. When she got there, they allegedly stabbed her repeatedly.
The pair of preteen accused attempted murderers, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, allegedly committed the unthinkable act of violence in a pre-planned sacrifice to the fictional Slender Man. Reportedly, the girls thought that if they stabbed their classmate to death, they would be able to live with Slender Man in the forest.
The violence and premeditated nature of the Slender Man stabbing led Wisconsin prosecutors to seek to prosecute the two 12-year-old girls as adults. Not surprisingly, the girl’s defense team stridently opposed the idea of their clients being subjected to the adult criminal justice system, and they fought diligently to keep the Slender Man stabbing defendants under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.
In 2015, it was ruled that the girls could be tried as adults for their alleged horrific crime. Their defense appealed the court’s decision, and last Wednesday, the Second District Court of Appeals in Wisconsin upheld the lower court’s decision to allow the girls to be tried as adults for the Slender Man stabbing that they allegedly planned and carried out in 2014. Both defendants are currently incarcerated and have been denied bail pending their upcoming trial.
@Cosmopolitan that's bull????the fact that they believed in a fictional character shows their immaturity they need mental help— sherry a zellers (@sherryazellers) July 29, 2016
@standardnews Seems to be a good decision, justice done. Moreover, court has given reasonable justification for trying them as adults., .— Francis Anthony (@franktoni23) July 28, 2016
@guardian shocking that the juvenile system doesn't allow for post-18 mental health follow up— Grace Hughes (@gracicusminimus) July 27, 2016
According to the July 27 decision, the appeals court concurred that even if the girls were found guilty of the Slender Man stabbing in the juvenile court system, they would be released from custody at the age of 18, which is only four years away. The juvenile court system in Wisconsin would also preclude the girls from being supervised or receiving court-ordered mental health care beyond their 18th birthdays.
According to the second district court’s ruling, the state has evidence that indicates that the Slender Man stabbing was both planned and “extremely violent.” Both of the defendants in the Slender Man stabbing case have been charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide for their alleged roles in the unthinkable stabbing of the 12-year-old classmate. If convicted as adults, they could face over six decades in prison.
A conviction as juveniles would result in a sentence of no more than three years of juvenile incarceration followed by supervision until their 18th birthdays.
Defense expert witnesses told the court that both girls have mental health issues that indicate the need for intensive, long-term treatment, not decades of incarceration in the adult prison system. Prosecutors have argued that the juvenile system is not designed to handle cases of such severity, and both girls will pose a continued threat to the public well beyond the point in which they become legal adults.
The Slender Man stabbing was reportedly planned for months and following the brutal attack that was reportedly carried out in homage to the fictional creature, the two alleged perpetrators of the stabbing left their classmate for dead. Payton Leutner survived by dragging herself out of the wooded area where she was stabbed 19 times, and she recovered from the attack and returned to school in just three months.
A documentary chronicling both the mythology surrounding Slender Man and the terrifying reality of the Slender Man stabbing is set to have its Midwest debut this autumn. Beware the Slenderman officially premiered in March at South by Southwest, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In October, it will be featured at the 2016 Milwaukee Film Festival.
The ruling to try the two Slender Man stabbing suspects as adults for a crime they allegedly committed as 12-year-old preteens has rekindled the debate about juvenile justice in the United States. Many believe it is ridiculous or even cruel and unusual punishment for the girls to be caught up in the adult criminal justice system. Particularly, since they have been diagnosed as suffering from severe mental illnesses.
What do you think? Did the appellate court get it right in this case? Was the crime allegedly committed by these two girls heinous enough to warrant being incarcerated for much of the remainder of their lives? Would society be better served if they were allowed back into the general American population without supervision at age 18? What do you think about the decision to try the Slender Man stabbing defendants as adults?
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