Two schizophrenic girls, now 13, will be tried as adults for attempted first-degree intentional homicide for repeatedly stabbing classmate Payton Leutner to appease the imaginary Slender Man. If convicted, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier could get 65 years. What is served by potentially putting little girls in prison for the rest of their lives? Yes, some people need to be in prison forever, no question. However, sentences this harsh for defendants so young leaves no possibility for redemption or change.
I’ve been clean and sober a long time and know people who led seriously violent lives (hardcore bikers, mob enforcers) before getting clean. They probably had been monsters. However, they changed, and then led productive lives. Sometimes you couldn’t even guess what their previous lives had been like.
Sometimes the law is an ass and legal arguments seem bizarre. The defense tries to show the girls, deluded as they were, thought they were protecting themselves and their families from Slender Man, and thus the attack could be construed as self-defense. If so, then they could be tried as juveniles for attempted second-degree intentional homicide and be eligible for release at age 25. But the judge disagreed.
After delivering a half-hour analysis Friday of statutes governing homicide charges and potential defenses, Bohren rejected the self-defense claims. He noted that the girls also thought killing Leutner would make them Slender Man’s servants, earn them the right to live in his mansion and prove to others the creature was real. Those motivations outweigh self-defense, he said.
I’m not saying the judge’s decision is wrong. Given the laws he must abide by, his decision is perhaps reasonable. However, with a first-degree charge, the defendants must be tried as adults under Wisconsin law. Laws this harsh, with no exceptions allowed, need to be re-thought.