WAUKESHA COUNTY -- A Waukesha County judge has suspended the case involving two 13-year-old girls accused of stabbing and trying to kill a classmate -- while an appeals court decides whether to review the case's placement in adult court.
This, after a Waukesha County judge ruled on August 10th that Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier will be tried in adult court. The decision came after months of debate regarding the age and mental status of the girls charged in this case.
Geyser and Weier each face one felony count of first degree intentional homicide. They are accused of stabbing their friend 19 times on May 31st, 2014 — and leaving her for dead in the woods in Waukesha. They were 12 years old at the time of the alleged crime. The girls told officials they did it out of allegiance to the fictional character “Slenderman.” The victim survived.
In early August, Judge Michael Bohren said the critical key in his decision to keep the girls in adult court is what happens to them after they turn 18. If they were in the juvenile court system, the court would no longer have authority over them after that age.
"In the juvenile system, at age 18, they'd both be released. There has to be assurances to the public this doesn't happen again. Longer-term control is necessary," Bohren said.
In adult court, a conviction could mean up to 65 years in prison. The girls would go to Copper Lake School in Irma, Wisconsin until they turn 18. Then, depending on their sentence, they could be released with supervision, or go to Taycheedah Correctional Institution for up to 45 years.
On August 21st, a judge entered not guilty pleas on behalf of Geyser and Weier in adult court.
The lawyers for the girls told the judge they did not get the official written order of the judge's decision that the girls be tried as adults. So, the lawyers did what's called "stood moot" -- to buy them time if they want to make another try to get the girls tried in children's court instead of as adults.
And that is what they have now done -- appealing the judge's decision to try these girls as adults. They are asking that the girls' October trial be postponed until the appeal can be heard.
"Hopefully we'd get some firm ruling from the court of appeals in 2015. That would be my hope," Anthony Cotton, attorney for Morgan Geyser said.
If the girls are ultimately tried as adults, Weier's lawyers are asking that a jury be selected from outside Waukesha County and that a video confession to police be thrown out.
The then-12-year-old girls did waive their rights at the time, and spoke to investigators, but they did not have their parents or a lawyer nearby, and there are questions as to whether the girls really understood what they were doing when they allegedly stabbed their friend 19 times in the woods in Waukesha.
"When you are dealing with a child of that age, that emotional, even that educational level, even though my client is a well-educated child -- against a well-trained law enforcement officer to say that was a knowing and voluntary waiver," Maura McMahon, attorney for Anissa Weier said.
Right now, this entire trial which was to happen in October is placed on hold pending the appeals court ruling.
Geyser and Weier are expected back in court September 30th.