The attorney for Morgan Geyser, the Waukesha girl accused of nearly stabbing her friend to death to appease the fictional character Slender Man in 2014, is seeking to have his client released as the legal proceedings continue.
According to a recent document filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court, Anthony Cotton wrote that with Geyser's mental health condition stabilizing following three months of treatment at a mental health institute, "a cash bail" is no longer necessary.
Geyser and her co-defendant, Anissa Weier, are being confined to the Washington County Juvenile Detention Center in West Bend on a $500,000 cash bond.
But Cotton is looking to have Geyser's bail modified to a signature bond as the legal proceedings continue to be on hold as the state's Court of Appeals continues to review whether to move the cases into the juvenile court system or uphold a judge's ruling and keep them in the adult court system.
In his motion, Cotton noted that Geyser, 13, was placed under a Chapter 15 Commitment Order and transferred to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute for inpatient treatment on Dec. 14, 2015, and remained at the mental health institute until March 21.
During those three months, Geyser took the antipsychotic medication Abilify, used primarily to treat symptoms of schizophrenia. Her dose of the medication steadily increased over time, Cotton said.
Geyser has been diagnosed with early onset schizophrenia, and, until December, had not received any treatment for the condition. Psychiatrists have testified that while she was locked up Geyser told them she was still communicating with fantasy characters, including Slender Man, for whom she was willing to his bidding.
But at the mental health institute, Cotton said Geyser's condition has also improved after participating in individual therapy with her social worker.
"Morgan was entirely cooperative throughout this process and she has taken her medication precisely as required," Cotton said.
Cotton added she has not experienced any side effects from the medication.
In the meantime, Cotton said Geyser will continue to receive psychiatric and psychological services at the Washington County Detention Center. The Chapter 51 Order will remain in place until June, at which point the parties will stipulate to a one-year extension.
Second release request
If she were to be released from custody, Cotton said Geyser's treatment services would continue to be monitored and coordinated by her county social worker.
Cotton added that Deborah Collins, a psychologist who has evaluated Geyser multiple times since her incarceration, noted that Geyser's "entry point" to the criminal justice system was a result of her untreated mental health diagnosis.
"From a clinical standpoint, Morgan is stabilized such that she can be returned to the community," Cotton said.
This is the second time in the last year that Cotton has made a request to have Geyser's bail be reduced to a signature bond and moved out of the detention center.
Last year, Cotton sought to have Geyser transferred to the Wauwatosa-based Milwaukee Academy, a residential treatment facility for girls, where she could receive care and treatment for schizophrenia.
However, that request was denied by Judge Michael Bohren after he said "flight risk" was a significant issue, given that the Milwaukee Academy, a comprehensive program that integrates clinical services and has a structured therapeutic environment whose staff is trained in providing treatment in complex psychiatric cases, isn't a secure-enough facility.
He added a bail reduction wasn't granted given the nature of the allegations — Geyser is charged as an adult with attempted first-degree intentional homicide after allegedly stabbing then-12-year-old Payton Leutner 19 times in a wooded area outside of David's Park following a birthday party sleepover.
Cotton's request will be heard by Bohren at a 1:30 p.m. hearing on Friday, April 15.
Weier, who remains at the detention center and is now 14 years old, will also appear in court earlier that day for a status conference.
Still in adult status
Following hearings last summer in which both girls' attorneys sought to have the cases moved into the juvenile court system, Bohren kept the cases in the adult court system. He said transferring Geyser and Weier would "unduly depreciate the seriousness of the offense." Bohren added "longer-term control" over Geyser and Weier is necessary to ensure protection to the public.
Shortly after, both girls' attorneys appealed Bohren's ruling.
If Geyser and Weier are transferred to the juvenile system they could be incarcerated for up to three years and be released without any supervision when they are 18.