Dec 18, 2014 2:26 PM
Judge: Slender Man stabbing defendant competent
The Associated Press
WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) One of two girls accused of stabbing a classmate in a southeastern Wisconsin park to please a fantasy character known as Slender Man is competent to stand trial for attempted homicide, a judge ruled Thursday.
A state psychiatrist determined that the girl would be able to assist in her defense, but her attorney disputed the finding, saying he had a report from another doctor who disagreed. Both reports are sealed.
Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren, who ruled at the end of a three-and-a-hour hearing, said that by all accounts, the girl is highly intelligent.
"I'm satisfied that the issues of age and maturity do not override her competency," the judge said. "She's competent to make the decisions that have to be made."
The decision keeps the case moving in adult court. Bohren scheduled a preliminary hearing, at which point he would have to decide whether there's enough evidence to warrant a trial, for Feb. 18 and Feb. 19.
Two psychologists, Anthony Jurek and Michael Caldwell, testified for the defense that they interviewed the girl several times. They said although she is clearly intelligent, the girl has trouble making decisions when she's bombarded with information and lacks an understanding of the nuances of the criminal justice system, including the ramifications of accepting a plea bargain.
Another psychologist, Robert Rawski, testified for the state that he found the girl to be highly capable. And Ted Szczupakiewicz, an assistant district attorney, said it appears the girl answered the defense experts' questions about the legal system correctly.
"She does understand she ... would be an important source of information for a defense attorney," Szczupakiewicz said.
Bohren scheduled a Thursday afternoon hearing to decide whether the other defendant is competent to stand trial.
Prosecutors have charged both girls with attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the attack in May in Waukesha, a city of 71,000 about 15 miles west of Milwaukee. They say the girls plotted for months to kill classmate Payton Leutner, luring her to a wooded park after a sleepover and stabbing her 19 times. After her attackers left, Leutner crawled through the woods to a sidewalk where a bicyclist found her and called 911.
The two girls charged in the case were found walking toward a national forest where they said they believed Slender Man lived in a mansion. They told investigators they believed killing Leutner would curry favor with the figure.
All three girls were 12 at the time of the attack. The girl whose competency was in question has since turned 13.
Wisconsin law requires suspects in severe crimes to be charged as adults if they are at least 10 years old. The Associated Press is not naming the girls because their attorneys have said they may still try to move their cases into juvenile court, where proceedings are closed to the public.
Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1