A Wisconsin teenager who helped her friend stab a classmate nearly to death in order to please a horror video game character has been found not guilty for her role in the attack by way of mental illness and will be treated in a hospital instead of serving prison time.
Anissa Weier cried in relief after the judge read the jury’s decision, which agreed with the defense’s argument that the 15-year-old is mentally ill, WISN reported. The jury also agreed that Weier is not criminally responsible, but the judge ordered the jury to resume deliberations because some jurors gave different answers to the two questions.
The charges stem from a 2014 incident that saw Weier and Morgan Geyser lure their classmate, Payton Leutner, into the woods at a park near the suburban Milwaukee home. Geyser stabbed Leutner 19 times as Weier egged her on, and the pair left the young girl to die. A passing bicyclist discovered Leutner and called 911 just in time to save her from succumbing to her injuries.
All three girls were 12 at the time of the attack.
Leutner’s family dismissed the verdict as unfair, noting that it “forces our family to relive this horrific crime every six months wondering if (Weier and Geyser) will be released.”
“It is deeply disappointing,” read a statement written by relatives of the victim.
Weier and Geyser claimed that they were compelled to kill their classmate to appease Slender Man, a fictional character who they allegedly believed would have harmed their families if they did not murder in his name.
“This sounds crazy, because it is,” said defense attorney Maura McMahon. “This was a real being to this child and she needed to protect those around her. At 12 years old, she had no way to protect herself from (Slender Man) except for Morgan’s advice and they swirled down into madness together.”
McMahon claims that Weier and Geyser developed a psychiatric condition called shared delusional disorder, which led the girls to wholeheartedly believe that Slender Man – a demonic figure who they thought could teleport and would kill their loved ones if they talked about him – was out to get them.
Waukesha County Deputy District Attorney Ted Szczupakiewicz claimed that the culprits planned the attack for at least four months and wondered why it did not happen earlier if the girls were so afraid.
“It comes down to did she have to or did she want to?” he said. “It wasn’t kill or be killed. It was a choice and she needs to be held criminally responsible.”
Geyser’s trial is set to begin on October 9. She pleaded not guilty to one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide by reason of mental disease or defect.