Slenderman Tween Found Incompetent to Stand Trial; Legal Commentary By Whitey Bulger Defense Attorney Hank Brennan

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Morgan Geyser, 12, known as one half of the Slenderman Killers, who stabbed a twelve year old friend 19 times, has been found incompetent to stand trial for her participation in the crimes that shocked this tiny Wisconsin city.

Geyser, who was identified by the victim as her "best friend" along with Anissa Wier, also 12, allegedly meticulously planned the May 31 attack luring the victim to a park, where they repeatedly stabbed her, narrowly missing her major arteries, and leaving her for dead in a cult sacrifice devotion killing to prove allegiance and loyalty to the fictional Slenderman.

The victim suffered internal, although not life threatening, injuries with stab wounds on her stomach, pancreas, and liver. Physicians indicated the child's heart had also been touched, but not penetrated, by the knife.

The victim, whose identity has not been released, has repeatedly stated her desire to live was the force that propelled her as she crawled from the scene to a bike path where she was found.

The two preteens have been charged with two counts of Attempted First Degree murder and face up to sixty years in prison.

The appalling, sophisticated, pre-mediated crime that garnered international publicity included code words used throughout the three month planning stage and pre-arranged "go" phrases and words that would initiate the stabbing.

Although motive has been placed on an allegiance to the fictional character seen on the reward the girls expected for their devotion has never been discussed. At arrest they were walking toward Nicolet National Forest, where they believed Slenderman lived in a Mansion.

Legal Commentary

Hank Brennan, co-defense attorney in the recent trial, and lead counsel in the appellate process, for James "Whitey" Bulger, the notorious Boston Mobster, explained and clarified the recent decision and ruling.

"In the 'Slenderman' case, the defense obtained an expert who evaluated the accused and determined that she was "mentally incompetent to proceed with her defense."  This is the pre-trial assertion that the trial should not even occur.  Since the defense made the assertion, the prosecutor is entitled to have their own doctor, or, depending on the jurisdiction, one appointed by the court, to evaluate the accused to determine competency." 

What then? "After the prosecutor's expert reports their findings the court will have a hearing and both sides can introduce witnesses, expert testimony, and other evidence to support their position.  Ultimately, the court will decide whether the accused is competent to stand trial.  If the Court determines the accused is competent to stand trial there will be a trial.  If there is a trial the defense may pursue mental defect as a partial or total defense to the charges."

Isn't that simply a way out? "If the court determines that the defendant is incompetent to stand trial a number of things can happen.  Depending on the jurisdiction, a judge can take steps to assist the accused in gaining competency through medication, treatment, or other means.  Typically, an accused will remain incarcerated in a secure mental health facility during this period.  In most jurisdictions, an accused can be incarcerated, usually at a mental health facility until they become competent.  Sometimes an accused will remain incarcerated until they die if they never achieve competency.  In other jurisdictions, a person can be released if they are deemed incompetent to stand trial.  If an accused is deemed incompetent to stand trial there is a regular period of review by a doctor to determine if the competency issue has changed.  Each jurisdiction has specific rules relative to competency and the procedures that are followed if someone is deemed incompetent.  In some jurisdictions the rules can provide a judge discretion to choose release or continued incarceration."

About 10 years ago, co-counsel on Bulger, J.W. Carney Jr. and I tried a murder case where the defendant had at one point been deemed not competent to stand trial. (He was acquitted of murder and convicted of manslaughter.) He remained incarcerated for many years.  He was diagnosed with cancer and shortly after his diagnosis a doctor determined that he was competent to stand trial.  A few years ago, in Massachusetts, a judge concluded that a man accused of first degree murder was incompetent to stand trial and there were no programs or likelihood of competence and in consequence released the accused and dismissed the charges."

Slenderman was originally created as a fictional character, unusually tall, thin, featureless, the slender man was created in 2009 and went viral with unrelated authors using the fictional characters in various artistic expression predominately horror assigning fantasies of abduction primarily of children or other child directed crimes.

The girls have maintained they believed the character was real.  

Hank Brennan, previously a District Attorney in Suffolk and Essex Counties, he received accommodations for his trial advocacy from the Suffolk Law School and American Bar Association Brennan joined the Bulger Defense team in 2011 and conducted the majority of the cross examinations during the trial.


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