Slender Man stabbing suspects avoid prison time, headed to mental health facility

Posted at 7:44 PM, Sep 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-30 10:35:37-04

The second of two girls accused in the Slender Man stabbing accepted a plea agreement Friday. 

Morgan Geyser has agreed to plead guilty to attempted first degree intentional homicide however, she won't have a jury trial to determine her mental stability. Both the state and defense agree she should be found not guilty by reason of insanity. 

The agreement means Geyser will face a similar outcome as Anissa Weier. In Weier's case, she will be in an institution for at least three years but no more than 25. However, Geyser's agreement doesn't specify a minimum amount of time she'll be held, but a maximum of 40 years. 

"It's been a tragic experience for everyone. Our hearts go out to the victim and her family," Geyser's attorney Donna Kuchler said. "I think it's fair. It saves everybody a trial. It saves the victim, her family, the state and all the expenses with a trial."

Plenty of people have disagreed with the penalties for the two girls. Many comments filled the TODAY'S TMJ4 Facebook page saying these girls both deserve to go to prison for what they did and a mental health institution is essentially a slap on the wrist. However, Dr. Jerry Halverson with Rogers Behavioral Health in Oconomowoc says that's not the case. 

"The big difference is, it's a much more secure environment," Dr. Halverson said. "They'll have a whole lot less freedom than they would at a place like Rogers. She's certainly not going to have a normal adolescence. She's not going to a regular high school like our children go to. She'll be in a hospital that's a secure facility. It's not a day camp where she can come and go as she pleases. There is going to be very strict security and very strict treatment."

Dr. Halverson says it can be difficult for people to understand this is justice. 

"It's difficult to want to punish these kids," Dr. Halverson said. "I understand the desire to punish but our goal is that this doesn't happen again."

He says, both girls would likely be worse off if they went to a regular prison since they wouldn't get the medical attention they need. 

"Mental illness is like other illnesses we treat," Dr. Halverson said. "I do believe we're going to be better off treating these girls and have them lead normal lives instead of having them jailed for a long period of time."

Both girls are expected to go to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute which could be a concern since the two girls could interact there. After all, it was their interaction that lead to their delusional disorder. However, Dr. Halverson says it's unlikely they would cross paths because typically, the professionals there would have them focusing on their treatment. 

Under the sentence, after three years Weier would be able to petition for release. Geyser doesn't have the same minim sentence. So in theory, she could petition for a release six months after she starts her treatment but Doctor Halverson is confident in the system to keep both girls there until they're rehabilitated. He says there are checks and balances both on a medical and legal front.

"Usually these cases are not in hospitals for six months," Dr. Halverson said. "They're in hospitals for years and years. Particularly, with what's happened in this case, I'm not sure what court or judge is going to be excited to discharge this child before she's very ready."