One of the two Wisconsin teenage girls who tried to kill a classmate to win favour with fictional horror character Slender Man has been sentenced to the maximum 40 years in a mental institution.
Morgan Geyser (15) had pleaded guilty last October to attempted first-degree intentional homicide in a deal with prosecutors to avoid a prison sentence.
In 2014, Geyser and her friend Anissa Weier lured their classmate Payton Leutner into a wooded park in Waukesha, a Milwaukee suburb.
Geyser stabbed Ms Leutner 19 times while Weier urged her on, according to investigators. Leutner survived after she crawled out of the woods to a path where a passing cyclist found her.
Both Weier and Geyser told detectives they felt they had to kill Ms Leutner to become Slender Man's "proxies", or servants, and protect their families from him. All three girls were 12 years old at the time.
When handing down the sentence, Judge Michael Bohren explained that his decision to grant the maximum penalty sought by the prosecutors was "an issue of community protection".
The judge described Geyser as a "fragile" person but said that "what we can't forget is this was an attempted murder".
The 15-year-old spoke briefly before being sentenced, breaking down in tears as she did.
While apologising to Leutner she calls her by the nickname Bella.
Doctors who testified at the sentencing yesterday offered conflicting evaluations on the severity of Geyser's continued hallucinations and the type of institutional care she required.
Prosecutors presented testimony from a doctor who claimed the teen was hearing voices from someone named "Maggie" as recently as September 2017.
Dr Brooke Lundbohn said that although she believed Geyser had made significant progress over the three years since the attack, she strongly believes that Geyser is still a danger to herself and others.
Defence attorneys argued that she suffered from schizophreniaand psychotic scpectrum disorder, making her prone to delusions and paranoid beliefs.
Three doctors called by the defense claimed she no longer shows psychotic symptoms and would benefit from being in a residential facility where she could socialise with people her own age.
Geyser is currently at a state mental facility with adults.
"I believe at the present time she is no more dangerous than any adolescent her age," said Dr. Kenneth Robbins.
Geyser may seek conditional release before the 40 years are up and her attorney stated afterwards that she would appeal it every six months.
Payton's parents were present present in the public gallery at the sentencing but did not speak. Their victim impact statement was not read aloud.
At the sentencing for Anissa Weier last December, a letter from Payton's mother, Stacie, was read out.
she wrote that the trauma of the attack "has defined our lives" and that her daughter still fears for her life.
For months, Payton slept with scissors under her pillow for protection, and she still keeps her bedroom windows closed and locked.
"She will struggle with the events of that day and physical and emotional scars it left for the rest of her life," her mother wrote.
she said her daughter would not feel safe if either of her attackers is released back into the community unsupervised.
"Payton has a lifetime of healing ahead of her and she deserves to be allowed to heal in an environment where she feels safe," her mother wrote.
Weier was sentenced to 25 years in a psychiatric institution, retroactive to the date of the crime.
That means she will be institutionalised until she is 37. This is the maximum punishment possible.
- Digital desk