Is Morgan E. Geyser competent to stand trial?
Two reports done by doctors say no.
Geyser is one of two 12-year-olds who allegedly plotted for months to kill a fellow classmate to please the fictitious Internet horror character Slender Man.
The state is challenging the doctors who say she is not competent and will have its say during a competency hearing Aug. 1 at the Waukesha County Courthouse.
Judge Michael Bohren ordered the hearing at the request of Deputy District Attorney Susan Opper after it was revealed last week in court that two doctors deemed Geyser incompetent. According to the criminal complaint, Geyser tackled the victim in a wooded area in Waukesha and stabbed her with a kitchen knife after a birthday party sleepover the previous night.
Two competency reports were filed with the court. Anthony Cotton, who is representing Geyser, said one was filed at the defense's request and a second was done by a state 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. The state is expected to question the doctors who conducted the evaluations. If the court determines that Geyser is not competent and not likely to become competent within a set time period, the proceedings will be suspended.
Under Wisconsin law, the court could determine that if Geyser could become competent within a year with the appropriate treatment, the court could suspend proceedings and commit the defendant to a treatment facility.
Before the competency hearing, Bohren, at the request of Opper, ordered that Geyser be evaluated for mental disease or defect at the time of the offense. Opper 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.
Cotton, of Kuchler & Cotton S.C., opposed that evaluation, saying he and his client haven't entered any type of plea yet. After a motion was filed by Cotton to stop the evaluation, Bohren halted the exam on Tuesday, according to online court records.
Weier in court
Anissa E. Weier, the other 12-year-old charged in the case, appeared second in court and had a full row of family members, all of whom maintained their composure when seeing her handcuffed and in the blue jumpsuit.
Weier's attorney, Joseph Smith Jr., asked 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.
Weier's competency 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.
Weier will also return to court Aug. 1 for a status hearing.
Both suspects will return to the Washington County Detention Facility in West Bend where they have been staying since being charged as adults with attempted first-degree intentional homicide. According to the criminal complaint, the suspects lured the victim into the woods and attempted to stab her to death.
According to the criminal complaint, after stabbing her 19 times, the two girls set off for the Nicolet National Park in northern Wisconsin where they believed Slender Man lived in a mansion. They said they learned about Slender Man through the Creepypasta website.
Smith said after the court appearance that moving his client to juvenile court is still a top priority, although he hasn't made that request yet.
"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.
But Cotton said the competency evaluation and looking at mental health is all part of that process.
If the girls are convicted in adult court, they could each face up to 65 years in prison.
Geyser's appearance in court changed slightly since her last court appearance last month. Geyser, wearing a blue jail jumpsuit, looked paler and thinner than her past two appearances.
As he was during his daughter's first two hearings, Geyser's father was emotional in the courtroom. Sitting alongside two other family members, he 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 did not speak and left quickly after Geyser’s court appearance.
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.”
Victim's family speaks out
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. "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, about $53,500 has been raised for the girl's medical and legal bills.
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.
The victim, who attended Horning Middle School with the two suspects, had stab wounds to her arm, legs and torso and suffered injuries to her liver, pancreas and stomach. And according to medical tests, one of the stab wounds to the girl’s chest missed a major artery near her heart by one millimeter.
“Together as a family, we continue to adjust to our ‘new normal,’ ” the family recently said in a statement. “(Our daughter) has a courageous heart and bravely deals with both the physical and emotional challenges since the attack.”
The victim, who attended Horning Middle School with the two suspects and were said to be all friends, had stab wounds to her arm, legs and torso and suffered injuries to her liver, pancreas and stomach.
And 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.
“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.”