MILWAUKEE (AP) — A psychologist has determined the second of two 12-year-old girls charged with stabbing a classmate 19 times in an attempt to please a fictional character called Slender Man has mental health problems that make her unfit to stand trial, her attorney contends.
One of the girls was ordered to receive treatment in August after Judge Michael Bohren decided she wouldn't be able to help with her defense if her case went to trial. The second girl is scheduled for a two-day probable cause hearing next week. Bohren will decide after that whether she should stand trial on charges of attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
Her attorney, Assistant State Public Defender Joseph Smith Jr., told Bohren in a letter filed in court Tuesday that after hearing from a forensic psychologist he hired to examine the girl, he had reason to doubt his client's competency.
"In his professional opinion she is not presently competent to proceed" with a trial, Smith said. He added that he would give Bohren a written copy of the psychologist's report before a hearing on his request to have the girl's case moved to juvenile court.
Wisconsin law requires anyone accused of certain serious crimes to be charged as adults if they are 10 or older. According to a criminal complaint, the girls plotted for months before they lured their former friend into the woods after a sleepover in May and attacked her. They told investigators they hoped it would please Slender Man, a character they had read about in online horror stories.
Smith's client told investigators that she told the victim to lie down and be quiet after the stabbing so that she wouldn't lose blood as quickly, but that she really wanted the victim to be silent so she would die without drawing attention to them. The victim, who also was 12, survived and returned to school last week to start seventh grade.
A court-appointed psychologist testified in August that the other girl, who told police she stabbed the victim more than a dozen times, heard voices and believed she could communicate with Slender Man and other fictional characters. There has been no testimony yet in the case about Smith's client's mental health.
Smith told Bohren he wanted to go ahead with the probable cause hearing and have the judge consider his client's mental state during a reverse waiver hearing that would follow. The reverse waiver hearing is where Bohren will decide whether the girl's case belongs in the adult or juvenile systems.
Smith has said repeatedly that he hopes to have the case moved to juvenile court. In his letter to Bohren, he expressed concern that if the girl was found unfit to stand trial before the reverse waiver hearing, she would be treated in the adult system and might not receive services appropriate for her age.
"In addition, I have always maintained and continue to maintain that the issue of (her) competency is one of the many factors the court should consider in assessing whether to keep (her) in adult court or transfer her to juvenile court," Smith wrote.
The Associated Press is not naming the girls while there is a chance that their cases will be moved to juvenile court.
If convicted as adults, each could be locked up for up to 65 years. In the juvenile system, they could not be held past age 25.
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