It was a murder that shook the nation, thanks to the youth of its perpetrators and the eerie myth that they alleged "made" them do it. On Thursday, a judge ruled that the two Wisconsin Slenderman girls are fit to stand trial for repeatedly stabbing their classmate to "please" the fictional Internet character in Waukesha, a city about 15 miles west of Milwaukee.
Back-to-back hearings for both girls were scheduled, but attorneys for one of them waived the hearing because she had previously agreed with a doctor's opinion that she was competent. When asked if she thought she was fit to stand trial, another girl told the Judge Michael Bohren that she considered herself incompetent.
But Bohren found otherwise. He said:
I'm satisfied that the issues of age and maturity do not override her competency. She's competent to make the decisions that have to be made.
The case will now head toward a preliminary hearing, set to take place in February, Waukesha Deputy District Attorney Sue Opper told the Los Angeles Times. Wisconsin law requires suspects to be at least 10 years of age to be charged as an adult in severe crimes. The victim, who was released from the hospital a mere week after the incident, had just turned 13, reported the Associated Press.
The girls were 12 at the time of the attempted murder, as was the victim. Following a sleepover in May, the three girls went to a nearby park, where they subsequently stabbed their friend 19 times in total and left her for dead. The victim was found by a cyclist after she managed to crawl through the woods to the side of a road. The two girls were charged as adults with first-degree attempted homicide.
Their alleged motive for the murder was to please a crowd-sourced Internet meme, Slenderman, that is known as a faceless figure that lurks in the background of blurry photos and is alleged to kidnap children. Despite the character being completely fictitious — a result of the joint efforts of an Internet forum's members to create photographs with supernatural entities — the girls had claimed that Slenderman "spoke" to them, and wanted them to be its proxies. They also said that they had planned to kill the girl since last December.
Although the attempted murder reverberated throughout the nation, the 71,000 people of Waukesha were left shellshocked. Parents everywhere scrambled to understand Slenderman, its appeal, and other Internet-born characters, raising questions of the value and moral content in the information that children are exposed to on the Internet.
The two girls could face sentences to up to 60 years in jail if convicted of attempted homicide as adults. If convicted as juveniles, they could be held until age 25.
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