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WAUKESHA, Wis. — One of two 12-year-old girls accused of stabbing a friend 19 times in a twisted homage to a fictional boogeyman is not mentally competent to stand trial and must undergo treatment, a judge ruled Friday.
The girl’s mental health was at the heart of a hearing to determine whether she understands the attempted homicide charges against her and if a trial should proceed. A psychologist testified that the girl exhibited bizarre behavior during an interview in June, saying she believes in unicorns, the Vulcan “mind meld” made popular in “Star Trek” and the villain Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” series.
She also laughed “almost hysterically” during the session.
“She presently lacks substantial mental capacity to rationally and factually understand her charge and be a meaningful assistance in her defense,” testified Dr. Brooke Lundbohm.
The Waukesha County judge ruled the girl will be released to the state’s Department of Health, which will decide whether she will be kept in a hospital or treated in outpatient care. Ultimately, the treatment is supposed to help the girl become competent enough so that she can eventually stand trial, the judge said.
Her attorney has argued that she is mentally ill and her case should be moved from adult to juvenile court — where she would have more access to social services.
Another hearing is scheduled for Nov. 12, when the judge could determine whether she should remain in treatment or if the case can proceed in court. Her attorney could still raise an insanity defense.
The second suspect’s case, meanwhile, is set to move forward with a probable cause hearing scheduled for next month. NBC News is not naming the suspects because of their ages. Suspects 10 and older in Wisconsin are treated as adults in severe crimes.
Both girls appeared in court Friday looking down, and did not make eye contact with their families.
The two are accused of luring their 12-year-old friend to the Wisconsin woods in May and repeatedly stabbing her as she cried out for help, police said. The brutal attack was allegedly part of the girls’ plan to appease an online character named Slender Man.
“She needs to grow up, to develop,” Lundbohm testified about the first girl, adding that the suspect has an underlining mental disorder. The girl’s father broke down crying when Lundbohm mentioned that his daughter said she believes in unicorns.
Meanwhile, the judge ruled earlier in the hearing that the second suspect’s attorney can’t have access to the first girl’s doctors’ reports. Her attorney, Anthony Cotton, said he was wary of releasing the records, calling it a “fishing expedition” to benefit the second suspect’s case, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
If tried as adults and found guilty, the alleged attackers could see up to 60 years in prison.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Erik Ortiz reported from New York.