The lawyer for a Wisconsin girl who urged her friend to stab a classmate nearly to death to please a fictional character called Slenderman, says she descended into 'madness.'
The lawyer for a 15-year-old Wisconsin girl who urged her friend to stab a classmate nearly to death to please a fictional character called Slenderman, told a court she had descended into 'madness' and should be institutionalized.
During the hearing Friday, Anissa Weier's attorney told the court his client was lonely, depressed and descended into 'madness,' as he pleaded with a jury to send the girl to a mental hospital rather than prison.
Weier and Morgan Geyser lured classmate Payton Leutner into the woods at a park in Waukesha, a Milwaukee suburb, in 2014.
Geyser stabbed Leutner 19 times while Weier urged her on, according to investigators.
Anissa Weier passes a note to defense attorney Joseph Smith Jr. during closing arguments in her case Friday
Weier is accused of being involved in the stabbing of another girl related to the 'Slenderman' online story, pictured chained, being led into the courtroom in December of 2016
A passing bicyclist found Leutner, who barely survived her wounds. All three girls were 12 at the time.
Both Weier and Geyser told detectives they felt they had to kill Leutner to become Slender Man's 'proxies,' or servants, and protect their families from the demon's wrath.
The ongoing trial is to assess her mental competency and will determine whether she should be sentenced to a prison sentence or if she will be sent to a psychiatric facility.
If she is convicted, she could spend 10 years or more in behind bars.
On Wednesday Melissa Westendorf who was appointed by a judge to evaluate Weier after her insanity plea, testified for the teen.
Westendorf testified that she believes Weier suffered from a shared delusional disorder that left her unable to conform her conduct to the law when she and Geyser tried to kill their friend Leutner in 2014.
Weier and Geyser are seen above in their mugshots in April 2014. They were both 12 at the time
The Slender Man is a fictional character that originated in an online art contest in 2009
Westendorf acknowledged under cross-examination that the condition is rare among two children who are friends. She said most cases involve spouses, a parent and child, or siblings.
Weier's attorney, Joseph Smith Jr., asked why Weier, a good student, did not recognize that the belief in Slender Man and his powers to kill them or their families was a delusion.
'First of all, she was 12,' Westendorf said, adding that Weier was influenced by a website focused on imaginary killers and boogeymen. 'If adults have trouble distinguishing fake news, 12-year-olds will, because their brains can't yet discern or analyze as well.'
Weier, now 15, pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree intentional homicide in a deal with prosecutors in August. But she claims she was mentally ill during the attack and not responsible for her actions.
A jury heard three days of testimony from psychologists and detectives. If the jury agrees she wasn't responsible, she'll be committed to a mental institution. If not, she faces prison.
The jury began deliberations Friday morning. Weier's attorney, Maura McMahon, said during closing arguments that Weier was lonely and depressed after her parents divorced and that she latched onto Geyser.
The girls attacked 12-year-old Payton Leutner (above before the stabbing) after a sleepover in 2014 to prove the fictional boogyman they believed in was real
Payton survived by crawling into the path of a passing cyclist who called for help. She is pictured (right) this year
Morgan Geyser (above in November last year) also admits her role in the stabbing but has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder by way of insanity. Her mental competency trial will begin in October
Together they became obsessed with Slender Man, developing a condition called shared delusional disorder, McMahon said.
Weier believed Slender Man could read her mind as well as teleport and would kill her or her family if she talked about him, she said.
'This sounds crazy, because it is,' McMahon said. 'This was a real being to this child and she needed to protect those around her.
At 12-years-old, she had no way to protect herself from (Slender Man) except for Morgan's advice and they swirled down into madness together.'
Waukesha County Deputy District Attorney Ted Szczupakiewicz countered during his closings that the stabbing was calculated.
Melissa Westendorf, a forensic psychologist, told jurors Anissa Weier could not conform her conduct to the requirements of the law, speaking Wednesday
Anissa's attorney said she was not in control of her mind when she carried out the attack
He said the girls had planned the attack for at least four months. He asked jurors to consider why if the girls were so afraid of Slender Man they waited so long to attack Leutner.
He also pointed out that Weier told a detective she wasn't frightened of Slender Man until after the attack, when Geyser told her she had made a deal with the monster that he would spare their families if they killed Leutner.
'It comes down to did she have to or did she want to?' Szczupakiewicz said. 'It wasn't kill or be killed. It was a choice and she needs to be held criminally responsible.'
Weier, bespectacled and dressed in a long gray-and-white cardigan, visibly trembled in her seat during the closings.
Wisconsin law requires only 10 of 12 jurors to render a verdict on whether a criminal defendant wasn't responsible for her actions due to a mental condition.
The jury spent all day Friday deliberating but there was no indication the panel was close to a decision as evening drew on.
After the stabbing in 2014, the pair both told police about Slenderman and described their fear that they would have been punished by him had they not attacked Payton.
They signed confessions to that effect which their parents and attorneys are now begging to be thrown out on the basis that neither understood properly what they were confessing to at the time.
The trial will determine whether Anissa, 15, goes to prison or to a psychiatric facility
On Monday, prosecutors rejected the argument and told jurors both girls were aware of what they were doing when they turned on Payton in the forest.
'They knew this was wrong. They understood what they were doing was wrong,' attorney Kevin Osborne said.
Anissa's parents previously appeared on Good Morning America to speak of their shock after learning what she had done.
They said they were unaware of her obsession with the sinister fictional character beforehand and revealed that their daughter was 'absolutely' remorseful over the attack.
'They thoroughly believed that Slenderman was real and they wanted to prove that he was real,' Kristi, her mother, said.
The three girls had spent the night at Geyser's home the night before the attack. Geyser and Weier plotted it overnight and Geyser carried the knife in her waistband as they marched in to the forest.
During police questioning, Weier said of the moment she saw the weapon: 'Dear God, this is really happening.'
Their plan had been for Weier to carry out the attack but she froze and instead told her friend to do it instead.
After stabbing her 19 times, the pair ran away, leaving Payton for dead.
She was able to crawl far enough towards the path of a cyclist and flagged them down.
The girl was then taken to hospital where doctors said she was a 'millimeter from death'. She returned to school in the fall of 2014.
Geyser has pleaded not guilty to one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide by reason of mental disease or defect. Her trial is set to begin Oct. 9.
The Slender Man is a fictional character that originated in an online art contest in 2009, before becoming a popular meme.
The mythical creature is often depicted as an unnaturally tall, thin figure with a blank, featureless face, wearing a black suit.
The character is said to have creepily long, tentacle-like arms, which can be extended to capture prey.
It is described as stalking, abducting and traumatizing children, and - depending on variations of the urban legend - can cause memory loss, insomnia and paranoia.
It is also said to be able to create distortions in photographs and teleport.
The character is understood to have originated in a Photoshop contest on the forums of comedy website Something Awful in 2009.
It then went viral, with numerous works of fan art and short scary stories - known as 'creepypasta' - published online.
The character has developed its own life online, with two feature-length films funded in part by Kickstarter appearing in 2012, along with many amateur video
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