One of two Wisconsin teenagers charged with repeatedly stabbing a classmate to impress a fictitious horror character called Slender Man pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge.
Anissa Weier, 15, pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree homicide as a party to a crime, with use of a deadly weapon. She initially faced a charge of attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the 2014 attack on Payton Leutner in Waukesha.
The plea means her trial next month will look only at whether she is legally responsible for the crime or not guilty because of mental illness. She could face 10 years in prison if she's found guilty. If not, she'll spend three years in a mental hospital.
Prosecutors allege she and her co-defendant, Morgan Geyser, stabbed their classmate 19 times in a Waukesha park following a sleepover, then left her and planned to walk hundreds of miles north to meet Slender Man in a forest. Leutner was able to crawl out of the woods in the park to a path where she was found by a bicyclist.
On the stand Monday, Weier blamed Geyser for planning the attack.
"It wasn't my idea. Morgan came to me one day and told me that we should prove that Slender Man existed. I asked her how and she said that we had to kill somebody, and I said OK because I thought it was a joke and I didn't think it would actually happen, and it obviously did," Weier said.
"I didn't want to hurt Payton. I wanted to prove that Slender Man existed, but I thought that there were other ways -- Morgan told me there were other ways of becoming a proxy and proving that Slender Man existed, but I asked her what they were and she said she didn't want to talk about it and that killing someone was the easiest way," Weir also said on the stand. "I believed that if I didn't go through with it, Slender Man would come and attack and kill myself, my friends and family, those I care about most. And I was afraid if I didn't go through and help Morgan, that she would find a way to elude authorities or anyone else who was looking for her and come back and finish what she started I guess, and kill me, which is why I went with her,"
Geyser also was due in court Monday for a status hearing. She has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease to attempted homicide charges in adult court. Weier also entered the same plea initially.
Geyser's attorney, Anthony Cotton, said Monday that they plan to proceed to trial. He said it wouldn't be appropriate for him to comment on Weier's decision. He said they have been holding mock trials weekly.
"We have continued to gather crucial information from the focus groups we've been convening repeatedly," he said, adding that they "are confident in our approach."