Sat, Feb 03, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Girl tried in Slender Man stabbing gets maximum

AP, WAUKESHA, Wisconsin

Morgan Geyser leaves the court after she was sentenced on Thursday to 40 years of institutional confinement.

Photo: Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

A Wisconsin girl who stabbed a classmate to curry favor with the fictional horror character Slender Man will be committed to a mental hospital for 40 years, a judge ordered on Thursday, explaining his decision as “an issue of community protection.”

Judge Michael Bohren granted the maximum penalty that prosecutors had sought and discounted Morgan Geyser’s youth — she was just 12 — at the time of the attack in 2014.

“What we can’t forget is this was an attempted murder,” Bohren said.

Earlier, he heard from four doctors who talked about how Geyser is making progress with her mental illness, to various degrees.

However, Bohren called the teenager “a fragile person” whose long history of suffering from delusions make her a risk to hurt herself and others.

Geyser, now 15, spoke briefly before she was sentenced, breaking down in tears as she apologized to the girl she stabbed, Payton Leutner.

“I just want to let Bella and her family know that I’m sorry,” she said, using a nickname for Leutner. “And I hope she’s doing well.”

Geyser and another girl, Anissa Weier, admitted that they lured Leutner into some woods near a suburban Milwaukee park.

Geyser stabbed Leutner 19 times while Weier urged her on, investigators said.

They left Leutner for dead, but she crawled out of the woods and got help from a passing bicyclist. All three girls were 12 at the time.

“Really judge, it’s a miracle that Peyton is still with us, that she survived this,” prosecutor Ted Szczupakiewicz said.

Geyser and Weier said they carried out the attack to appease Slender Man, a fictional online horror character, who they said they feared would otherwise harm them and their families.

Slender Man is often typified by spidery limbs and a blank white face.

Weier was sentenced to 25 years in a mental hospital in December last year. She pleaded guilty in August to being a party to attempted second-degree intentional homicide, but she claimed that she wasn’t responsible for her actions because she was mentally ill. In September, a jury agreed.

At Geyser’s sentencing on Thursday, doctors who evaluated her gave conflicting opinions about the type of institutional care that she needs and the severity of her continued hallucinations.

Prosecutors presented testimony from a doctor who said Geyser reported still hearing voices from someone named “Maggie” as recently as September last year.

Licensed psychologist Brooke Lundbohm acknowledged that Geyser has made significant progress over the last three years, but said she emphatically believes she is still a danger to herself and others.

However, three doctors the defense called on Thursday said she no longer shows psychotic symptoms and would benefit from being in a residential facility where she could socialize with other teenagers.

She is at a state mental facility with adults and doctors said she is the youngest patient there.

Geyser pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree intentional homicide in October in a deal with prosecutors to avoid prison. She may seek conditional release before the 40 years are up.

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