The case of two girls accused of stabbing their classmate 19 times to please a fictional Internet character known as Slenderman will move forward in adult court, a Wisconsin judge ruled on Friday.
Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, who were both 12 at the time, were charged as adults with attempted first-degree homicide in the May 2014 attack on a classmate in Waukesha, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee.
Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren, who found in December that the girls were competent to stand trial, ruled that there was probable cause to proceed with the case in adult court.
The parents of Geyser and Weier declined to comment after Bohren's ruling and walked out of the courthouse crying and visibly shaken.
Prosecutors have said the girls lured their 12-year-old victim into the woods the morning after a sleepover and stabbed her 19 times to impress Slenderman, a tall fictional online bogeyman, according to authorities.
Wisconsin law requires cases to begin in adult court if they involve juvenile suspects at least 10 years old who are charged with first-degree attempted intentional homicide.
The girls could be sentenced to up to 60 years in prison if they are convicted as adults on the charges. After his ruling, attorneys for the girls asked Bohren to set a hearing on whether the case should be heard in juvenile court.
In juvenile court, the girls could be imprisoned only up to age 25 if convicted. He scheduled a hearing for May 26 on the request.
Geyser's attorney, Anthony Cotton, has argued that Bohren should dismiss the first-degree charge because it requires the crime to have occurred without any mitigating circumstances.
"I can't find at this time that the mitigating circumstances exist," Bohren said.
Four police officers, who testified for prosecutors, told the court that the girls did not show any remorse, tried to cover up the crime and planned the attack for months.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Bill Trott and Sandra Maler)
Watch a report on the ruling, as aired on WTMJ-TV, below.