Morgan E. Geyser, one of the 12-year-old suspects who allegedly tried to kill her friend to please an Internet horror character, was found not competent to continue with a trial, according to a doctor’s evaluation.
This was revealed when Geyser, charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide for allegedly stabbing another 12-year-old Waukesha girl 19 times in May, appeared Wednesday morning in a Waukesha County Courtroom.
The judge, Michael Bohren, has now ordered that Geyser be evaluated for mental disease or defect at the time of the offense. The request was made by Deputy District Attorney Susan Opper, who said “timing is essential” and added that it’s better to do it now, before a not guilty plea is made and the case proceeds.
Anthony Cotton, of Kuchler & Cotton, S.C., who is representing Geyser, had opposed that evaluation, saying he and his client haven’t entered any type of plea yet.
Two competency reports were filed with the court. Cotton said one was filed at the defense’s request and a second was done by a Wisconsin Forensic Unit doctor. Results of that examination were sealed. Cotton said the reports drew the same conclusion.
A competency evaluation is done to determine whether a client can assist in the defense.
Geyser’s appearance changed slightly since her last court appearance last month. Geyser, wearing a blue jail jumpsuit and looking more pale and skinnier than her past two appearances, had a long strand hair braid on her right side. Geyser was also twirling her hair while in the courtroom.
And as he has during his daughter’s first two hearings, Geyser’s father was emotional in the courtroom. Sitting alongside two other family members, Geyser’s dad had his hands folded and stared blankly as he wiped away tears as he waited for his daughter to enter the courtroom. When the young girl did, he broke down.
Despite getting asked by some media members to make a comment, he and the other family members with him did not make any comments after Geyser’s court appearance on Wednesday.
Annisa E. Weier, the other 12-year-old suspect charged in the case, appeared second in court and had a full row of family members, all of whom maintained their composure when seeing their daughter handcuffed and in the blue jumpsuit.
Weier’s attorney, Joseph Smith, made a request to have 30 days to review discovery materials that he received from the prosecution. He previously requested that he have these materials at the last court appearance in June.
Raising competency for Weier could also be addressed down the road.
“We do believe competency is an issue, but at this point we’re not raising a competency issue,” Smith said.
Both suspects will return to the Washington County Detention Facility in West Bend where they have been staying until their next hearings at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 1. The state will oppose the competency ruling at that hearing.
Geyser will have a competency hearing on that day and is scheduled for half the day. Her first two court appearances have been about 10 minutes or less.
While the request wasn’t made on Wednesday morning, Smith said after the court appearance that moving his client to juvenile court is still a top priority as this case continues.
“That’s strongly what we’re focused on,” Smith said. “That’s our goal.”
Cotton also said that continues to be his team’s strategy.
“We think it’s appropriate for the case we have,” Cotton said as he was bombarded by local and national media on Wednesday.
But Cotton said the competency evaluation and looking at mental health is all part of that process.
If the case stays in the adult court system, both Geyser and Weier face up to 65 years in prison if convicted.
Cotton continued to stress that his client’s family is “devastated” by what has happened.
“Every time we talk they express their remorse,” Cotton said. “They feel terrible about this.”
The victim’s family, who has been updating the public on their daughter’s condition through statements online, addressed the district attorney’s decision to charge the suspects as adults.
“Our family fully supports the District Attorney’s Office in their prosecution of this case,” the statement read, which they released on Wednesday. “However, our daughter and our entire family continue to focus on both her physical and emotional healing. She continues to amaze us in her ability to persevere and move forward - taking one day at a time.
“Much of our strength comes from knowing that there is so much good coming from so many people, and we continue to witness this firsthand from the compassion given to our little girl from around the world.”
Through an online campaign fundraiser at www.gofundme.com/HeartsForHealingWI, about $53,500 has been raised for the girl’s medical and legal bills.
According to the criminal complaint, Geyser and Weier plotted for months to kill their Horning Middle School classmate as a way to please the fictitious Internet character, Slender Man, which they learned about through the Creepypasta website.
Geyser and Weier attempted to kill the victim in a wooded area near Rivera Drive and Big Bend Road on May 31 after a birthday party at Geyser’s house the previous night, according to the criminal complaint.
The suspects lured the victim into the woods and stabbed her 19 times with a kitchen knife, the criminal complaint says. The suspects wanted to kill the victim and leave for the Nicolet National Park in northern Wisconsin where they believed Slender Man lived in a mansion, according to the complaint.
The complaint says Weier pushed the victim down in the woods and sat on her. Weier then told Geyser "go ballistic, go crazy,” the criminal complaint says. Weier told police that Geyser then tackled the girl and started stabbing her.
The victim, who had stab wounds to her arm, legs and torso, was able to crawl out of the woods and make it to the end of the road before she was found by a bicyclist, who called 911.
The girl also suffered injuries to her liver, pancreas and stomach.
According to medical tests, one of the stab wounds to the girl's chest missed a major artery near her heart by one millimeter. Police said if that artery was struck the girl would have died within minutes.
The victim has received support from all across the world with monetary donations as well as purple hearts (purple is the victim's favorite color). Without showing her face, the family also recently released a picture of the girl and has continued to ask that their daughter’s identity remain private.
“Together as a family, we continue to adjust to our ‘new normal,’ ” the family said last week. “(Our daughter) has a courageous heart and bravely deals with both the physical and emotional challenges since the attack. Though many days consist of medical appointments and rehabilitation, recently she and her father enjoyed a daddy-daughter night at the movies and thoroughly enjoyed a Disney film. It also included, (after much persistence) a stop for a much-deserved treat at the snack area.”