Should 12-year-old girls be charged as adults? Prosecutor familiar with young suspects weighs in

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WAUKESHA (WITI) -- A case involving two 12-year-old girls accused of stabbing a 12-year-old girl 19 times in the woods in Waukesha this weekend is creating controversy. 12-year-old Morgan Geyser and 12-year-old Anissa Weier have been charged in adult court -- but should they be? Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco knows what it's like to prosecute children as adults. Last summer, two Sheboygan County 13 year olds were convicted in the brutal murder of the great-grandmother of one of the boys. Now, DeCecco is speaking out on the Waukesha case.

DeCecco tells FOX6 News he was hoping he would never have to hear of children so young committing such a heinous crime ever again.

Less than a year after his case, involving Antonio Barbeau and Nathan Paape (each sentenced to life in prison in the death of Barbeau's great-grandmother), DeCecco says he's shocked and saddened by what's happening now in Waukesha.

Geyser and Weier are just 12 years old -- and they're accused of plotting the murder of their friend for months -- and nearly killing her last weekend in a Waukesha park.

With their criminal cases just getting underway -- DeCecco is reminded of a case in his county.

"It was kind of a shocker and it brought back memories of what we went through," DeCecco said.

It has been less than a year since DeCecco worked to prosecute Barbeau and Paape.

The boys were 13 when they killed Barbeau's great-grandmother with a hatchet and a hammer for money.

"The game really changes.  It`s the same standards, the same rules -- but changes a little bit when you have younger people," DeCecco said.

DeCecco says there's extra scrutiny when it comes to suspects so young.

Questions are being raised in Waukesha about the 12-year-old girls waiving their Miranda rights and being questioned before their parents arrived.

DeCecco says similar questions were raised in his case as well. He says questioning children is tough -- but law enforcement officials are trained.

"They are very good about making sure the juveniles in any situation, whether it be in juvenile court or adult court understand," DeCecco said.

In DeCecco's case, the boys were tried as adults. They are both each serving life sentences -- and may eventually be eligible for parole.

DeCecco says while each case is different, there must be appropriate punishment for disturbing crimes.

"You don`t look at their Justin Beiber haricuts.  You don`t look at their acne.  They are not quite older yet.  We look at what they did and I think that`s how most prosecutors look at it.   What did you do?  Not what you look like.  What did you do?" DeCecco said.

FOX6 News spoke with the Waukesha County District Attorney on Wednesday, June 4th about the Miranda rights issue.

He says the officers who conducted the interviews have experience interviewing young suspects.

He says he believes the girls' statements will hold up in court if challenged.

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  • Marlo

    Yes, why should they get a second chane ? The other girl will never get a second chance of living a normal life.

  • Jay M

    the funny thing is people are saying they shouldnt be tried as adults but if these kids were black it would be a completely different conversation. And dont tell me I am pulling the race card…I’m basing it completely on prior stories I’ve read on here.

  • Mauderate (@RetroSinister)

    They murdered someone in cold blood. Regardless on if it was “inspired by Slenderman” or not. They robbed an innocent child of their life. They don’t deserve some slap on the wrist sentencing for that.

  • EM

    if they are this tainted at 12 years of age, what would they be capable of at the age of 18. Their “friend” is lucky she was not killed. Do we really want these girl walking free in several years so we can have another mass murder at a movie theatre or school. It’s good we know now that there is something terribly wrong with these girls now and not several dead bodies later.

  • Jenny

    @Moon They were accessing the website at school as well as at home. So then, should the parents of the 2 responsible turn around and sue the school? As the parent of a (now grown and successful) child who gave me a run for my money during the teen years, these blanket statements of “blame the parents” want to make me vomit.

  • Caroline

    No they shouldn’t be charged as adults. They need psychiatric treatment and a second chance. We do not throw away our children here in this country. One of the girls is clearly a paranoid schizophrenic, and the other one perhaps is schizophrenic too or has severe mental health issues that affected her judgement so she got swept up in this myth that her completely out to lunch friend created.

    • Scott

      These parents are totally messed up and should not be raising children!!! My boys are 10 and 12, I carefully monitor everything, they aren’t allowed computers in their bedrooms, we have a computer room which is adjacent to the living room. I can’t monitor what they are looking at in school, but you better believe I will at home. These parents allowed and even fueled their obsession with death , this has nothing to do with goth – this has everything to do with parents that obviously don’t know how to properly raise children.

      My boys play video games, but everything has been age appropriate – not “here guys here’s a skull to play with! These parents fed their sick fantasies to these children, encouraged it, fueled it within them. A child’s mind is like a sponge and absorbs everything and they look to their parents for guidance, not saying there isn’t that odd ball case where the parents did everything as best as they could – however in this case they festered her mind with death and violence and was proud of her for it.

      I feel the parents are more to blame than the girls, although not excusing their horrific crime by any means. I imagine these parents will never have a safe place to live, I pray for that boy however – I hope he can escape and go on to live a healthy life. As for the parents, they may as well join a cult now because nobody will want anything to do with them – I know I wouldn’t allow my children anywhere near them.

  • Debbie Lou

    Anissa Weier and her friend Morgan Geyser, 12, lured their friend to woods in their home town of Waukesha, Wisconsin and stabbed her 19 times
    William Weier revealed to MailOnline that his sister loved watching videos online about the creepy urban legend
    Weier, who works in a traveling variety show said he thinks his sister doesn’t understand the ramifications of what she has done
    This follows the MailOnline’s revelation that the parents of Morgan Geyser, one of the two 12-year-olds charged with trying to murder their friend, have Instagram feeds featuring skulls
    In one Instagram post from mid April, Morgan’s father Matt shared a photo of a drawing ‘Mogo’ made of Slenderman
    Both her father Matt and mother Angie have Gothic-themed photos
    The friend that Geyser and Weier stabbed 19 times miraculously survived and is said to be in stable condition at a hospital in Wisconsin

    By Will Payne In Waukesha, Wisconsin

    Published: 20:05 EST, 3 June 2014 | Updated: 08:56 EST, 5 June 2014



    The elder brother of a school girl accused of brutally stabbing a classmate to pay homage to an eerie horror story character has said his little sister could not tell the difference between, ‘dreams and reality’.

    Anissa Weier and her friend Morgan Geyser, both 12, apparently lured their young victim to a woodland area in their home town of Waukesha, Wisconsin and stabbed her 19 times before leaving her to die.

    They both told police they committed the horrendous crime because they wanted to impress a ghoulish fantasy character called Slender Man, who they had become obsessed with after reading a string of scary stories online.

    Scroll down for video
    Dreams and reality: William Weier said that his sister Anissa Weier was obsessed by the Slender Man stories but was struggling to tell the difference between myth and reality
    Dreams and reality: William Weier said that his sister Anissa Weier was obsessed by the Slender Man stories but was struggling to tell the difference between myth and reality

    Dreams and reality: William Weier said that his sister Anissa Weier loved the Slender Man stories but was struggling to tell the difference between myth and reality

    And speaking to MailOnline, William Weier gave a fascinating insight into the troubled mind of his little sister.

    He said he was fully aware of her interest in the mythical figure – which she first discovered on ghost story website, Creepypasta – and knew she loved watching online videos about him.

    He explained: ‘If you looked at my younger sister you’d see a normal happy 12-year-old. She’s just got a couple of weird interests. Personally I think she found Slender Man on YouTube, took an interest and then read up on it.


    Revealed: Father of girl, 12, who stabbed ‘school friend 19 times to prove Slender Man myth was real’ proudly shared her sketch of horror creature on his ‘DEADBOY’ Instagram
    Two 12-year-olds obsessed with online ghost stories ‘lured classmate into woods and stabbed her 19 times’ to prove ‘Slender Man’ myth was real

    ‘She loved CreepyPasta, she loved the Slender Man stories, just anything a bit creepy. But I don’t see why it changed from dream to reality.

    ‘She was very quiet, she kept to herself, but she was happy-go-lucky, so this is completely out of the blue.

    ‘I know she understood what she was doing because she is very intelligent, to the point where by she lacks common sense.

    ‘But she is only a little girl so I don’t think she understood the ramifications of what she was doing.’

    Read more:
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  • Scott

    There is a huge difference between sports and 2 young girls plotting the murder of their friend and if you can’t understand that, well I have a small, very small swell of pity for your ignorance. I can’t recall ever watching on tv a person holding someone down in the ring while the other person stabbed them 19 times!!!!! Not once, not 5 times freaking 19 times !!! Listening to her scream, lets put this into perspective for you Kyle, ok – can you handle it? These sick girls, one of which has a death grip on this poor girl while the other one is ramming a knife into her, blood pouring out, gurgled cries for help as they laughed at her.

    It is easy for anyone of us to determine this or that, but the bottom line is this, that poor girl was brutally stabbed 19 times, I can only imagine the feel of dread that flowed through her – death ebbing so close. Shall we give the girls a slap on the wrist and say “bad girls” I don’t think so, it takes a lot to stab someone once, let alone 19 times. There is a huge difference here and it is sickening that you can compare a sport with the brutality of this crime!!!!!!!!!!!

  • AZ95

    I think she needs to get a lot of psychiatric help. Not locked up for life. Adults don’t even get life for attempted murder. She’s still young and can get help, and away from her parents.

  • BigT

    I think she should get Life in Prison without the parole. She knew what she was doing. I do not care if she just 12, that is not the point. The law on murder has to be applied the same for a minor as an adult. You would not be saying what you are if was your child she murdered in cold blood.

  • BigW

    I think she should get life without or the death penalty. We have to get hard of crime committed by young people are we are going to have a bunch of teens murdering people just because they can get away with it.

  • BigDog

    I think they should get life without parole or the death penalty each of them. i could care less why they did it. Their age has nothing to do with why. They are murders and should be treated as such, Life without or death penalty!

  • Waz

    They should be slowly strangled while they kick and gurgle and their tongues hang out then buried in land fill.

  • Dee

    Life in jail without parole? The victim didn’t die she’s still living, I don’t see how u can be charged with first degree intentional homicide when the victim didn’t die, I feel 25 years is more appropriate,by the time they get out they will be 37-38 years old and that will give them enough time to let them know slender man can’t help them.

  • MegaWapi

    Punishment should include a Lifetime of Weekly Community Service without let up.The other girl will never get a second chance of living a normal life

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