WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) – Two young Wisconsin girls accused of stabbing their classmate to please the horror character Slender Man must stand trial as adults for attempted homicide, a judge ruled Friday.
Both girls face a count of being a party to attempted first-degree intentional homicide, which automatically places them in adult court under Wisconsin law. They each could face up to 65 years in the state prison system if convicted.
Both suspects and the victim, Payton Leutner, were 12 at the time of the incident.
Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren made his decision on whether to go to trial after spending nearly a month weighing testimony from the girls’ preliminary hearing in mid-February.
Both girls’ attorneys had argued that Bohren should dismiss the charges. The girls legitimately believed they had to kill their friend to protect their families from Slender Man’s wrath, they said. That belief was a mitigating factor in the case and warranted a charge of second-degree attempted intentional homicide, which prosecutors would have to pursue in the juvenile system, where the girls could be held only until they’re 25.
Attorneys for both girls requested hearings seeking to move their cases back to juvenile court, and the judge granted the requests. Hearings were scheduled for May and June
Prosecutors allege the girls had plotted for months to kill their friend. They coaxed her into attending a sleepover at one of their homes in May and the next morning lured her into a wooded park in Waukesha. They stabbed her 19 times and then fled, according to court documents.
Police captured them later that day as they were trying to walk to the Nicolet National Forest in far northeastern Wisconsin, where they hoped to live with Slender Man in his mansion.
A passing bicyclist found Leutner and called for help. She barely survived; a doctor said one of the stab wounds just missed her heart, according to a criminal complaint.
The Associated Press isn’t naming either of the girls charged in case their case ends up back in juvenile court, where proceedings are closed to the public.