WAUKESHA COUNTY -- Should a teen charged in connection with a violent crime face adult punishment? That was the question that was addressed in court in Waukesha County Wednesday, May 27th -- as a hearing continued for Anissa Weier -- one of two charged in connection with the so-called “Slenderman” stabbing. Weier's lawyers say she's too young to be charged and punished as an adult. They're trying to get her case moved to children's court.
Testimony for the defense and prosecution rested shortly after 2:00 p.m. Wednesday. A judge will decide at a later date whether Weier will be tried in juvenile or adult court.
In court on Wednesday, there was a lot of testimony relating to the brain development of young people and testimony about Weier's mindset at the time this alleged crime happened.
"Seeds of this delusion still exist in your client now. Not as full-blown, but I think there are seeds that need to be addressed," Antoinette Kavanaugh, a forensic psychologist said.
13-year-old Weier and 13-year-old Morgan Geyser are accused of stabbing their then 12-year-old friend 19 times — leaving her for dead in the woods in Waukesha in an attempt to please the fictional character “Slenderman.” They are charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide. In adult court, that could mean up to 65 years in prison.
In court Tuesday, as Weier's hearing began, a lawyer for Weier worked to get the case moved to juvenile court. The charge would carry a lesser penalty of around 12 years behind bars.
Weier’s attorney says her then 12-year-old brain wasn’t developed as it relates to impulse control.
“Anissa is still at least five years away from the earliest point at which science tells us the brain typically reaches maturity,” Joseph Smith Jr. said.
Kavanaugh, a forensic psychologist, testified Wednesday that Weier should be in children's court -- saying she would not receive the treatment she needs if this case stays in adult court.
Weier has been locked up in the Washington County secure detention facility — a place with bars, pods and little mental health counseling. Supervisors say she is doing well in school there, but she has shown signs of distress.
FOX6 News has learned Weier had at one time been on suicide watch — and was bullied by others. She apparently only saw a counselor at the Washington County secure detention facility after she was cleared from suicide watch. Officials also say Weier can have no physical contact with her parents or siblings — and that no other child has stayed in that facility as long as Weier. The average stay is roughly 30 days.
“One time she had an emotional breakdown,” Weier's lawyer, Joseph Smith Jr. said.
Also providing testimony was an administrator for Copper Lake Juvenile Institution, where Weier would presumably go if found guilty of the crime -- whether charged as a juvenile or an adult.
In the juvenile system, Weier would no longer be under court supervision. If in the adult system, when she turned 18, the next transfer would be to Taycheedah.
In closing arguments, one of Weier's lawyers says a case like this has to be treated as a unique, individual case.
"This is a young lady who has intellectual capacity. She would be someone who would benefit from the juvenile system, and the adult they give back, the young adult they'd give back, would be someone who would benefit society," Weier's lawyer Maura MacMahon said.
The prosecutor disagreed, and will submit his arguments in writing.
Testimony and recorded interviews with both girls have shown Morgan Geyser to be schizophrenic and Anissa Weier to be afraid Slenderman would kill her family if she did not kill her friend.
In March 2015, the girls’ lawyers told the judge there are mitigating circumstances — facts that should lessen the crime.
Geyser’s hearing is set for June.
The judge will issue his decision on August 10th.
There is a motion challenging the Wisconsin law which allows a child so young to be charged as an adult. The defense calls it cruel and unusual. The Attorney General may have a chance to weigh in on that.