MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A jury this week will begin weighing the mental competence of a girl accused in the stabbing of a classmate to please a fictional horror character known as Slender Man.
Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren yesterday dismissed at least two dozen potential jurors, including several who expressed skepticism of an insanity defence, USA media reported.
"I believed if I didn't go through with the plan, Slender Man would come and attack and kill myself, my friends, and my family, those that I care about most", Weier said in court last month. Prosecutors in Waukesha, Wisconsin say she and her friend Morgan Geyser stabbed a fellow classmate 19 times in 2014. With Geyser, Weier developed a "delusional belief system" and together they made a plan to kill Leutner and become Slender Man's proxies, Smith said. Another girl, Morgan Geyser, is also accused in the attack.
Fifteen-year-old Anissa Weier has admitted to participating in the attack on Payton Leutner at a park in Waukesha in 2014.
The girls were 12 at the time.
"The evidence will show that, at the time this occurred, Anissa's broken mind caused her to lose touch with reality", Smith said.
Anissa and Morgan lured Payton Leutner to a local park on May 31, 2014, where they stabbed her 19 times, prosecutors have said. "Anissa was under the command and control of a delusional disorder".
Waukesha County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Osborne told jurors during opening statements that Weier and Geyser knew that they were committing a crime.
Psychologists testified in pre-trial hearings that Weier suffered from depression and a delusional disorder that made it hard to tell reality from fantasy, according to USA media. If jurors reject Weier's defense, she could go to prison for 10 years or more. But when Weier couldn't go through with it, she instead instructed Geyser to do the stabbing.
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Twelve jurors and four alternates were chosen Monday. If a jury agrees, she'll spend at least three years committed to a mental hospital.
"Do they have a delusion that Slender Man exists?" he said. Weier and Geyser left Leutner for dead and starting walking to the Nicolet National Forest, where they hoped to join Slender Man in his mansion.
In Wisconsin, anyone 10 or older charged with attempted first-degree or second-degree intentional homicide is considered an adult.
Weier's attorneys have the burden of proving she was mentally ill at the time of the crime, and the illness prevented her from understanding what she was doing was wrong, reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
"Anissa was involved, that's not in doubt", attorney Joseph Smith told jurors, but added that due to her mental illness she "lacked a substantial capacity to appreciate her conduct was wrong".
If the jurors reject her defense, prosecutors would then recommend a 10-year prison term, the paper reports.
But she would be committed to a mental hospital for at least three years if the jury finds her impaired by mental illness.
If not, she faces a much longer sentence in prison.
Geyser has pleaded not guilty to attempted first-degree intentional homicide. Her trial is set to begin October 9.