One of two Wisconsin girls who tried to kill a classmate to win favor with a fictional horror character named Slender Man was ordered to a maximum commitment.
Anissa Weier will be under state supervision for 25 years and first eligible for release from a mental institution in 2020.
Weier pleaded guilty in August to being a party to attempted second-degree intentional homicide, but she claimed she wasn't responsible for her actions because she was mentally ill. In September, a jury agreed.
Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren on Thursday ordered the 16-year-old Weier to be hospitalized for 25 years from the date of the crime, which would keep her supervised until age 37.
"The maximum commitment is what's necessary in this case," Bohren said. "I believe to maintain the safety, to maintain protection in the community and maintain protection for Payton."
Weier apologized in brief comments in court and said she accepted responsibility.
"I do hold myself accountable for this and that I will do whatever I have to do to make sure I don't get any sort of delusion or whatever again," Weier told the judge, as she sat next to her attorney. "I want everybody involved to know I deeply regret everything that happened that day. I know that nothing I say is going to make this right and nothing I say is going to fix what I broke."
Under the decision, Weier will be first eligible for release in July of 2020. However, her release is dependent on doctor's saying she won't be a harm to herself or society.
"If the doctors believe she's not a risk to herself or others, she could be in the community after time for release," Maura McMahon, Weier's attorney said.
Weier Attorney McMahon clarifies, Anissa eligible for release as soon as July 2020 but will be under supervision for 25 years. Her release is dependent on how she progresses.
— Shaun Gallagher (@ShaunGalNews) December 21, 2017
After her release, whenever it is, Weier will still be under state supervision until she's 37 years old. If there are times symptoms of delusions come back, she will talk to two supervisors and will help her get into more intensive care if need be.
"That's what that's about," McMahon said. "That period of time allows her to be in the community in a way that's safe and healthy for her and the community. Whatever help she needs to get, she's going to take it and do whatever she can to make sure she's as fully functional a person as we all know she can be."
Weier and Morgan Geyser lured Payton Leutner into a wooded park near Milwaukee in 2014. Geyser stabbed Leutner 19 times while Weier urged her on. Leutner survived.
Both Weier and Geyser told detectives they felt they had to kill Leutner to become Slender Man's "proxies," or servants, and protect their families from him. All three girls were 12 years old at the time.
Leutner's mother, Stacie Leutner, sent the judge a letter this week in which she wrote that the trauma of the attack "has defined our lives" and that her daughter still fears for her life. For months, Payton slept with scissors under her pillow for protection, and she still keeps her bedroom windows closed and locked.
Judge orders maximum commitment for Anissa Weier; 25 years in an institution. She will be eligible to be released when she’s 37 years old.
— Shaun Gallagher (@ShaunGalNews) December 21, 2017
"She will struggle with the events of that day and physical and emotional scars it left for the rest of her life," her mother wrote.
In her letter, Leutner did not ask the judge to sentence Weier to a specific length of time in the mental hospital, but she said her daughter wouldn't feel safe if either of her attackers is released back into the community unsupervised.
"Payton has a lifetime of healing ahead of her and she deserves to be allowed to heal in an environment where she feels safe," her mother wrote.
No one from the victim's family addressed the court during the hearing, deferring instead to the letter from her mother. Prosecutor Kevin Osborne argued for the maximum 25-year confinement, which the judge granted citing ongoing concerns about her mental stability.
"Considering the nature and gravity of this offense, being supervised until the age of 37 is not all that long ... in terms of the fact that Payton is looking at a lifetime of scars, physical scars and psychological scarring," Osborne said.
Weier's attorney, Maura McMahon, argued that she should not be hospitalized beyond her 25th birthday. She played a video in court with Weier's father, sister and grandparents speaking on her behalf.
"She's grown mentally and physically," her father William Weier said. "She knows what she did was wrong."
He asked for forgiveness from the Leutner family.
In a deal with prosecutors, Geyser, who did the stabbing, pleaded guilty to first-degree intentional homicide with the agreement that she isn't criminally responsible and shouldn't go to prison. She will be sentenced in February, and prosecutors have asked that she be given at least 40 years in a mental hospital.
Slender Man started with an online post in 2009, as a mysterious specter whose image people edit into everyday scenes of children at play. He is typically depicted as a spidery figure in a black suit with a featureless white face. He was regarded by his devotees as alternately a sinister force and an avenging angel.