One of the young women who perpetrated the near-fatal stabbing of their classmate has been approved for early release. Anissa Weier, 19, must stay at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute in Wisconsin pending the court’s review of a conditional release plan in a hearing scheduled for September 10, but all things told, it appears she will skip most of her 25 year sentence.
Weier and co-defendant Morgan Geyser, 19, lured classmate Payton Leutner into a wooded park in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha in 2014. Geyser did the actual stabbing, striking Leutner 19 times as Weier encouraged the attack. Leutner survived despite serious injuries. One stab wound pierced her diaphragm, hitting her liver and stomach, according to ABC News. Another reportedly missed a major artery on her heart by less than a millimeter.
“If the knife had gone the width of a human hair further, she wouldn’t have lived,” her surgeon Dr. John Kelemen told the network.
Weier and Geyser said they tried to kill her in order to become servants of Slender Man, a creepypasta character best known for appearances in video games. They were both found “guilty but not guilty” due to mental “disease/defect” — in the parlance of the Wisconsin court system.
At trial, Weier’s defense maintained she truly believed that Slender Man would hurt her and her family if she did not help commit murder.
“This was a delusion strong enough to kill for,” attorney Maura Ann McMahon said at the 2017 trial, arguing her client did not need prison. She argued that her client needed help.
Weier was sentenced to 25 years in a mental health facility for attempted second-degree intentional homicide. Geyser was sentenced to 40 years for attempted first-degree intentional homicide, likewise under institutional care. A spokesman for Leutner’s family welcomed Weier’s sentence at the time.
“They believe that justice was served,” Steve Lyons said, according to The Associated Press. “The sentence today allows for some additional closure for Payton and her family and it also keeps both Payton, her family and the community safe.”
Now Judge Michael O. Bohren has ruled that the prosecutors have not shown Weier remains a danger.
“The State has not met it’s [sic] burden of proof,” Bohren said in an oral ruling on Thursday which is now contained in online court records. “Court finds there is no clear and convincing evidence that the defendant poses a substantial risk of harm to others, herself, or serious property damage.”
From Wisconsin statute 971.17(4)(d) which was cited in Bohren’s order:
The court shall grant the petition unless it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person would pose a significant risk of bodily harm to himself or herself or to others or of serious property damage if conditionally released. In making this determination, the court may consider, without limitation because of enumeration, the nature and circumstances of the crime, the person’s mental history and present mental condition, where the person will live, how the person will support himself or herself, what arrangements are available to ensure that the person has access to and will take necessary medication, and what arrangements are possible for treatment beyond medication.
[Screengrab via WTMJ-TV]
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