The second Wisconsin teenager who repeatedly stabbed a classmate to impress a mythical online character named “Slender Man” was committed to 40 years in a mental hospital — the maximum punishment sought by prosecutors, according to court officials.
Morgan Geyser, now 15, pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree intentional homicide in October, claiming she is not criminally responsible and should not go to prison. During her sentencing hearing on Thursday, Judge Michael Bohren said Geyser was a risk to herself and to others, and disregarded her youth at the time of the attack in 2014, when she was 12.
“What we can’t forget is this was an attempted murder,” Bohren said, according to the Associated Press.
Geyser tearfully apologized to the girl she stabbed, Payton Leutner, before her sentencing.
“I just want to let Bella and her family know that I’m sorry,” she said, using a nickname for Leutner, according to the Associated Press.
Geyser and another teenager, Anissa Weier, lured Leutner, a classmate, into the woods in a Milwaukee suburb after a slumber party. There, Geyser stabbed Leutner 19 times with Weier’s encouragement.
The case drew national attention in 2014 because of the age of the victim and attackers — all just 12 at the time of the stabbing — and their peculiar motive.
The attackers both told detectives they needed to kill Leutner to become proxies, or servants, to Slender Man, a demonlike creature they read about online who is often depicted as a spidery figure in a black suit with a featureless white face. The girls said they were compelled to kill to protect themselves and their families from the demon, and after the slaying planned to run away to the demon’s mansion, which they believed was in the Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin.
Geyser and Weier were both originally charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, which carries a possible sentence of up to 65 years in prison.
Leutner survived the stabbing after crawling out of the woods, where a bicyclist found her and called 911. Leutner was raced to the hospital, where the surgeon who operated on her told ABC News’s David Muir the knife had nearly penetrated her heart, missing it by less than a millimeter. Damage to Leutner’s diaphragm forced her to use pen and paper to communicate for two days after the surgery because speaking hurt too much.
Doctors who evaluated Geyser have different opinions on her mental health. During her sentencing, prosecutors exhibited testimony from a doctor who reported Geyser in recent months was still hearing voices from someone named “Maggie,” the AP reported. But a doctor presented by the defense, Dr. Kenneth Robbins, said Geyser “is no more dangerous than any adolescent her age.”
Weier, now 16, was committed to 25 years in a psychiatric institution during her sentencing in December. She pleaded guilty in August to second-degree attempted intentional homicide in a deal with prosecutors but claimed she was mentally ill during the attack and not responsible for her actions.