Anissa Weier, 15, one of two teens accused of stabbing Leutner 19 times, pleaded guilty Monday to attempted second-degree intentional homicide, party to a crime, with the use of a dangerous weapon as part of a plea deal.
After the plea deal, Leutner's family said in a statement, "It has been more than three years since our daughter was brutally attacked by two classmates who premeditatedly and meticulously planned their assault in an attempt to kill our daughter. These three years have been very difficult both physically and emotionally for Payton and our family. Paramount in our decision to accept today’s plea agreement is that it provides closure without having to have Payton testify and be forced to relive this horrific incident."
"Though perhaps not to the extent in which we would hope these assailants be punished, we are forced to work within the confines of current law. Ultimately, our decision is what is best for our beautiful and amazingly brave daughter, Payton," the statement added.
Weier and Morgan Geyser were arrested May 31, 2014, after allegedly stabbing then 12-year-old Leutner and leaving her in the woods in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Leutner was rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries but survived.
Weier and Geyser were 12 at the time of the alleged crime.
Prosecutors have said that both girls were obsessed with the character Slender Man, who is often depicted in fan fiction stories online as a horror figure who stalks children.
On Monday, prosecutors recommended up to 10 years in prison for Weier, pending a trial set to begin Sept. 11 that will decide if she is legally responsible for the crime, or if she was mentally ill when she participated in the stabbing. If in next month’s trial a jury decides Weier is not responsible because of mental illness, she will spend three years in a mental hospital.
Her mother, Kristi Weier, said that according to police interview tapes of Geyser and her daughter, "they thoroughly believed that Slender Man was real and wanted to prove that he was real."
Her father, Bill Weier, said that if he had the chance to meet Leutner's family face to face, "I would tell them I'm sorry. I would tell them that I'm thankful that Payton survived. And I would tell them that for as much as they are struggling with trying to process this in what happened to their daughter, we are struggling equally trying to process this with what happened not only to their daughter but to our daughter."
Geyser's trial is scheduled for October in adult court and she "has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease to attempted homicide charges," the Associated Press reported.
According to the AP, Geyser's attorney, Anthony Cotton, said Monday, "We have continued to gather crucial information from the focus groups we've been convening repeatedly." Cotton added that the defense team is "confident in our approach."