The ‘Slender Man’ Trial

A Wisconsin Appeals Court recently released two decisions to try the two 12-year-old girls, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, in the “Slender Man” case as adults. For those of you who have not heard of this case, two girls in 2014 admitted to leading their friend into the woods along Interstate 94 and stabbing her 19 times as a means to please the “Slender Man,” an Internet horror meme. Amazingly enough, the two girls have stated that they believed in the existence of this fictional horror character.

The origins of Slender, as Weier called him in interviews with police, can be traced back to a photoshop contest on the Something Awful forums in 2009. A graphic artist inspired by the authors H.P. Lovecrqaft and Stephen King and horror video games like Silent Hill, manipulated an image to show a tall, thin humanoid lurking behind children. The internet then crowd-sourced the story behind Slender Man, making him a legend or ghost story for impressionable minds to believe.

Rolling Stone has come out with an article on how absurd it is to try two 12-year-olds as adults when it is clear there may have been underlying mental illness causing them to believe this story.  Morgan Geyser believed she would get to go live at Slender Man’s mansion if she killed her friend, and that he would harm her family if she did not go through with it. She had also been diagnosed with early onset schizophrenia.

Incompetency and Adolescents in Trial

Juvenile courts exist because it has long been understood that children are less culpable for their actions than adults. Research shows their brains are not finished developing, and they are immature.

In California, A.B. 2212 was signed into law on September 22, 2012. It added §709 in the CA Welfare and Institutions Code. It sets forth basic procedures to follow when a minor’s counsel or the court expresses concerns over a child’s competency to stand trial.

A minor is incompetent to proceed if s/he:

  • “lacks sufficient present ability to consult with counsel and assist in preparing his or her defense with a reasonable degree of rational understanding; or
  • lacks a rational as well as factual understanding, of the nature of the charges or proceedings against him or her. See Protocol for Competence in CA Juvenile Justice Proceedings.

Incompetency is not an affirmative legal defense. It does not speak to one’s mental state during the crime, it only speaks to whether they can understand their proceedings. It is common practice to treat a defendant until s/he is competent enough to prosecute.  

San Diego Criminal Defense and Juvenile Rights Lawyer  

At the Law Offices of David M. Boertje, we understand it is unfair for prosecutors to convict a victim or juvenile of mental illness who does not understand his or her actions. Our law firm seek a psychological evaluation whenever appropriate. If you or your loved one has been charged with a crime and you do not believe s/he is competent to stand trial, contact our law offices today at at (760) 476 0901 or visit us online. Consultations are free and confidential.