As a veteran prosecutor, Brad Schimel has prosecuted over hundreds of cases. They've ranged from as small as traffic offenses to as serious as first degree intentional homicide.
But the Waukesha County district attorney didn't hesitate when asked if he'd ever seen the allegations that were put on his desk last week.
The chilling details, as told in the criminal complaint, are well known at this point. Two 12-year-old girls allegedly plot to kill their friend, also 12 years old, after a birthday party sleepover as a way to prove they are worthy to the horror Internet character, Slender Man, who they learned about through the Creepypasta Wiki website. The suspects lure the victim into the woods and pin her down during a game of hide-and-seek, stab her 19 times and leave her for dead.
"I've never seen a combination of allegations like this involving people who are so young," Schimel said last week. "This is uncharted water."
Schimel, who charged the two suspects with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, said starting in adult court was warranted given the magnitude of the allegations and that according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Wisconsin is one of 29 states that requires homicide or attempted homicide charges to be filed in adult court if the suspect is at least 10 years old.
"I would never argue a 12-year-old is like an adult but the question is whether the juvenile system would have adequate services to address what has happened and if it's in the best interest of the child and community," Schimel said. "If the allegations in the complaint are true than that (warrants) the charges."
The two suspects (Morgan E. Geyser and Anissa E. Weier), who are staying at the Washington County Juvenile Detention in West Bend, are scheduled to return to court Wednesday, June 11.
Schimel said the suspects' attorneys could attempt to get the case into the juvenile court system and make a motion with the court seeking "a reverse waiver."
Schimel said he and the state will oppose that motion. He said if the case is transferred to juvenile court the maximum he can hold the suspects is five years. The charges in adult court face a maximum of 65 years in prison.
"The judge would hear evidence and arguments from both sides," Schimel said on the process in which a change in the court system develops.
Geyser's attorney, Anthony Cotton, of Kuchler & Cotton S.C. Attorney At Law in Waukesha, said he met with Geyser last week. He couldn't reveal what he and the sixth-grader discussed or when or if a reverse waiver will be made.
"I can't make that request until after the preliminary hearing so I don't want to put the cart before the horse on what, if any, mental health issues there may be," Cotton said.
But Cotton said he will seek to have a doctor do psychological tests on the girl.
"I'm not a doctor," Cotton said. "I can't diagnose her with anything. I have to find the right doctor to do the evaluations and rely on their expertise."
Cotton wasn't sure how quick he would get a doctor for Geyser.
"This is very complex," Cotton said. "This is an 11 year old child who just turned 12. They can't do the same tests on her as they would do with adults. So that process has to occur. People can have their opinion on where an 11 year old can go."
Cotton added that he and his team could also make the request for his client be transferred to an inpatient facility. A request was made last week on that but Waukesha County Circuit Court Commissioner Thomas Pieper denied the request and set bail at $500,000.
When asked how long this could go before a judge could make the decision on whether to send it to juvenile court, Cotton said "when cases have multiple layers it just takes time to sort through the issues." He added he anticipates to make that request at some point but not until he knows more facts.
"I want to learn more about the evidence, talk to doctors who will draw on their own conclusions," Cotton said.
Geyser, according to the criminal complaint, told police that both she and Weier stabbed the victim with a large kitchen knife and when being interviewed by police, she said "it was weird that I didn't feel remorse."
Weier told police that she and Geyser talked about the plan to kill the suspect on the school bus several months earlier and used code words when discussing it.
"The bad part of me wanted her to die, the good part of me wanted her to live," Weier told police, according to the criminal complaint.
Attorney Joseph Smith Jr. is representing Weier.
Regarding Geyser's statements to police, Cotton said "we don't know what the circumstances were surrounding her interrogation. All we know is she didn't have a lawyer or her parents present." Schimel said suspects must make a request to have a lawyer present during that process.
Weier and Geyser are being held at the same facility, are included in the same criminal complaint and are both appearing on the same date in court for a status review. However, Cotton said it's up to the judge as to whether they will separate the defense.
Cotton said his law firm, which also includes his mother Donna Kuchler, has defended young children charged with serious crimes in the past. He added that other attorneys in his firm will assist in the case, saying "this is the type of case that requires significant attention."
"We've defended clients that have been charged with everything imagined," Cotton added. "We've seen a lot."
So has Schimel. But before this, he had never heard of the Creepypasta Wiki website or the fictitious character, Slender Man. And with the suspects and victim being so close in age to his daughters, who are 11 and 13, Schimel said it has touched home.
"Like many parents, my kids asked about it," Schimel said. "We haven't talked about lots of the details but this isn't the first time they've had a talk from dad about being careful out there and that not everything on the Internet is what it appears."
He said he always makes sure to keep his personal feelings out of any case but added "this is chilling, no doubt."
He acknowledges the suspects are innocent until proven guilty but added "ultimately what was on the website (the suspects refer to it in the criminal complaint) I don't have to prove or disapprove. You can't say (you did something) because a website told you to do something. ... that is not a defense to this action. So I expect a lot of things the defense would and should pursue, certainly a psychological evaluation and examining whether the two girls are each competent to stand trial."