Geyser's trial set to begin Oct. 2
Morgan Geyser will have her case heard this fall before a Waukesha County jury, and confessions she made to Waukesha police will be allowed into evidence, a Waukesha County Circuit judge has ruled.
Those decisions on Monday, Feb. 13, came down after Judge Michael Bohren denied defense motions for a change of venue and to suppress statements Geyser made in three separate police interactions after she was arrested on May 31, 2014, in connection with the Slender Man stabbing.
Geyser's attorney, Anthony Cotton, argued that extensive and ongoing media coverage of the case – some of it international – would unfairly prejudice any Waukesha County jury against his client, and that Geyser was too young to understand the rights she was giving up when she agreed to answer questions about the incident.
She and her co-defendant, Anissa Weier, stand accused of attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the stabbing that almost left their friend and classmate, Payton Leutner, dead. The girls reportedly believed they were obliged to kill Leutner to please or assuage a fictional internet horror character named Slender Man. Both have pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, commonly referred to as the insanity defense.
According to online court records, a hearing on change of venue and suppression motions for Weier is scheduled for next Monday, Feb. 20.
At the Feb. 13 hearing, Bohren said he thought any prejudice potential jurors might have could be successfully weeded out during the jury selection process and with careful trial management.
"Knowledge of the circumstances (of this case) doesn't amount to prejudice," he said. "This court is satisfied that a fair trial can be held in Waukesha County."
Bohren said, when explaining his decision to deny the motion to suppress, that he was confident law enforcement acted appropriately when questioning Geyser and that she understood what was happening when she waived her Miranda rights.
Attorneys for both parties also agreed on dates for Geyser's trial, which will be held separately from Weier's per a previous decision from Bohren. Geyser's trial will begin on Oct. 2 – more than three years after the case began – and is expected to last two weeks.
Bohren's latest decision comes shortly after an HBO documentary about the case, titled "Beware the Slenderman," was released.
Both girls are being held on $500,000 cash bonds. Because Geyser, 14, has been diagnosed with early-onset schizophrenia she has been living at a state mental hospital under a court order where she is receiving treatment for her condition. Weier, 15, is incarcerated at a juvenile detention facility in West Bend.
If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to 45 years in prison.