The "Slenderman Girls" Will Be Tried As Adults

by Zoe Ferguson

Sometimes, there's news that can't quite be classified as "good" or "bad." It's just news. Today, we have that kind of news. In the case from Waukesha, Wisconsin, where two 12-year-old girls are accused of stabbing their classmate in order to appease the fictional horror character Slenderman, the two girls — charmingly nicknamed the "Slenderman girls" — will face adult charges of attempted homicide.

The girls, whom The Associated Press are not naming in case their attorneys succeed in moving their case to juvenile court, face charges of attempted first-degree murder. They were both 12 at the time of the attack, but one of them has since turned 13. Lawyers representing the defense argued that the girls should be charged with second-degree attempted murder, which would have to be tried in juvenile court, but Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren ruled that they would be tried as adults.

The girls stand accused of luring their classmate, twelve-year-old Payton Leutner, into the woods after a sleepover in May 2014 to carry out a murder plan they had been orchestrating for months. The two girls then allegedly stabbed Leutner 19 times and left her for dead. The girls' defense lawyers have argued that they were not mentally stable, but they were ruled mentally competent to stand trial in December 2014.

If convicted, the girls could face up to 65 years in prison. Wisconsin law requires prosecutors to press adult charges against children over age 10 who commit serious crimes, though it is possible that the defense will make an appeal. Defense attorneys for the girls insist that they legitimately thought Slenderman would hurt their families if they didn't kill their classmate. If the girls are convicted in juvenile court, they could only be held until age 25.

Leutner survived the attack and crawled to the roadside, where she was discovered by a bicyclist. She has since made a pretty full recovery from the stab wounds to her legs, liver, pancreas, and stomach, though her trauma is doubtless serious.

Online, many welcomed the news of Judge Bohren's decision, saying the girls deserved to be convicted and face adult prison sentences.

Others thought the decision to try the girls as adults was "excessive," disproportionate to their age and apparent mentality.