Juvenile Justice

Why girls charged in Slender Man stabbing at age 12 will be tried as adults

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Two girls accused of stabbing a friend at age 12 to please the fictional Slender Man character will be tried as adults after a judge upheld a Wisconsin law governing the issue.

Judge Michael Bohren of Waukesha County ruled on Monday that the adult court would protect the public longer than juvenile court, which would release the girls into the community at age 18 with no supervision, report the Associated Press, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Waukesha Now.

“There has to be assurance to the public—and to these defendants as well—that a serious offense has to be dealt with on a serious basis that offers protection to everyone,” Bohren said. The offense, Bohren said, was “frankly vicious.”

“This was not happenstance,” Bohren said. “This was an effort to kill someone. This was premeditated.”

Last Thursday Bohren refused to overturn a Wisconsin law that automatically considers youths 10 or older to be adults if they are charged with first-degree attempted homicide, according to the AP story. Lawyers for the girls had claimed the law should be struck down as cruel and unusual punishment.

Bohren acknowledged that juveniles aren’t as culpable for their actions, but said that doesn’t mean they should be exempt from adult sentences. If they are convicted, the girls will be held at a juvenile facility until age 18, when they would be moved into adult prison, Waukesha Now explains.

On Monday, Bohren rejected arguments that the girls should be transferred to juvenile court. Lawyers for the girls had made three points, the Journal Sentinel says. First, the lawyers said, the girls can’t get needed treatment for mental illness in the adult system. Second, an adult court prosecution is not the only way to deter others, the lawyers argued. Third, the transfer would not depreciate the seriousness of the offense, the lawyers said.

Doctors and psychologists said one of the girls suffered from a delusional disorder that Slender Man would harm her or her family if she didn’t kill for him, and the other has early onset schizophrenia. They are accused of taking a friend into the woods after a sleepover last year as part of a plot to kill the friend. The girl with schizophrenia is accused of carrying out the stabbing when the other defendant changed her mind.

The friend was stabbed 19 times but survived.

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