Opening Statements in Slender Man Trial Paint Two Very Different Pictures

Sep 13, 2017

The first of two Slender Man trials is underway. Opening statements were heard in Waukesha County Tuesday. Anissa Weier, last month, pleaded guilty to second degree intentional homicide with a deadly weapon. Three years ago, she and Morgan Geyser were 12 years old, when they stabbed a friend multiple times, leaving her for dead in a park in Waukesha. The girls said they were trying to please the fictional horror character Slender Man. The victim survived. The jury is being asked to decide whether Weier is legally responsible -- or if her actions were caused by mental illness.

Selecting a jury in the Slenderman trial Monday took just one day. At the start of the second day, the judge read the directions to the jury and handed over the floor to the lawyers for opening statements. Up first was the Joseph Smith, the attorney for Anissa Weier. He told the jury that there is no doubt Weier was mentally ill at the time of stabbing three years ago. Smith says that shortly after the incident, he had Weier meet with an expert in the field of child psychology. He says the doctor diagnosed Weier as Schizotypal.

“What that meant for Anissa is that she has the propensity to more readily accept non reality or delusional based beliefs,” Smith says.

The other girl accused in the stabbing, Morgan Geyser, has also been diagnosed with Schizophrenia and Smith says together, the two fed off of each other.

“A shared delusional disorder involves a strong adherence to non-reality based thoughts or beliefs between two people who share a close relationship,” Smith says.

Smith says the Weier and Geyser believed that they had to become a proxy for Slenderman in order to save their families and themselves from harm, and that the only way to become a proxy was by killing someone close to them.

“It had to be done in her mind. It needed to be done as a part of that delusional reality that she was living in at that time,” Smith says.

Smith says that of the three experts who have spent time with Weier none of them are disputing that at the time of the incident she suffered from a mental disease or disorder. And he says because of that she should be committed to a mental institution, not prison. However, the lawyer for the state disagreed. Kevin Osborne is an assistant district attorney with Waukesha County. He says based on how the attack played out, he's convinced Weier could not have believed that she and her family were in immediate danger from Slender Man.

“The original plan was to get up in the middle of the night kill Peyton and leave,” Osborne says.

But Osborne says that didn’t happen.

“Anissa wakes up at 1:30 a.m., tries to wake up Morgan and Morgan’s like nah it’s too early, we’re not going to do it right now. If they were really, truly afraid of an immediate harm to themselves or their families from a fictional character that apparently knows all and sees all, wouldn’t they be thinking oh geez, if we don’t get up now and do this, Slenderman’s going to be mad,” Osborne says.

Osborne says instead, the girls waited until later in the day after they’d played dress up and gone to the park. He says Weier was supposed to be the one to stab the victim but said she could not go through with that. Instead, when it was time, Osborne says Weier told Geyser to go berserk. Osborne says this case was really about wanting something. He says Weier wanted friends and went along with the plan in order to keep Geyser her as a friend. If the jury finds Weier legally responsible, she could be sentenced to 10 years in prison. If jurors determine her actions were caused by mental illness, she could be placed in a mental facility until 2020. Weier's trial is expected to last around a week. Geyser’s trial is scheduled to start at the end of the month.