If you are from southeast Wisconsin, you are probably aware of two twelve year old middle school female students who tried to kill another female classmate by stabbing her 19 times…with the intention of impressing a fictional online character. Waukesha County District Brad Schimel (who coincidently is running for Wisconsin Attorney General as a Republican) has decided to charge the girls with first degree attempted homicide as adults.

Today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has five articles in the editorial section alone…from Roman Catholic Archbishop Listecki…to Eugene Kane…to a direct editorial piece…but nobody is actually debating the decision to charge them as adults.

Because they are twelve years old and despite the fact the media has published their names and photographs, I am not going to use their names. Whatever the result of the pending legal proceedings, the lives of all three of these girls are already damaged beyond repair.

And yes the crime is heinous and cold blooded…but twelve year olds ARE NOT adults! And in the case of these two girls, the media provides absolute proof in every article they print about the crime by just relaying their explanation of the events. From the MJS editorial this morning:

The stories that [the girls] told police are at once bizarre and tragically sad. The girls, also 12, said they plotted the murder of their friend for months. On May 31, they allegedly lured her into a woods after a sleepover and stabbed her 19 times to show their dedication to a fictional character called Slender Man from the horror website Creepypasta Wiki. They wanted to become “proxies” of Slender Man and show that he was real, police say. They planned to hike to the Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin after the murder and present themselves to Slender Man in the mansion where they believe he lived. That was their fantasy.

Does that sound like the reasoning of an adult? Does it even come close? Do we really think they should be tried as adults? That they will understand the proceedings against them? If they can’t separate a fictional character on a website from reality? If they can’t determine the seriousness of their actions? The cat is already out of the bag, but trying them as adults is a miscarriage of justice.

13 Responses to Twelve Year Olds Aren’t Adults, They Just Aren’t

  1. John Casper says:

    Ed, thanks.

    Here’s a Eugene Kane’s take, “A Double-standard in Waukesha Stabbing Case.”

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/a-double-standard-in-waukesha-stabbing-case-b99285139z1-262191641.html

    If the accused had ancestors who were slaves, I think there would have been extreme pressure to charge them as adults. If the accused had ancestors who were slaves and the victim didn’t, I think the pressure to charge them as adults would have exponentially greater.

  2. independent guy says:

    If you are from SE WI?? The whole county and beyond has heard this story!
    OK Ed, what do you charge them as? And what do you do with them?
    These two girls thought this through and came within a mm of killing another girl. How would you feel if that girl was yours?
    This is the sick society I mention on another hot button topic that does not know right from wrong and has no respect for life.
    I don’t think I need them in my free society.

    • John Casper says:

      ig,

      Any thoughts you’d like to share on Meg Kissinger’s “Imminent Danger,”

      http://www.jsonline.com/news/134341463.html series?

      • independent guy says:

        Thanks John. Hadn’t seen this before. Interesting.
        This certainly heightens awareness of the complex issue of mental health.
        As a society we need to fess up rather than turn a blind eye to people that need help. The risks for the affected individuals and their families are too great.

    • Ed Heinzelman says:

      That’s very simple…we have a criminal justice system for minors and we should be going that route. If they don’t know right from wrong or fact from fiction…they clearly aren’t operating as adults in anyway that we recognize as adults. Why are you assuming filing charges as a minor would keep them on the street? I don’t expect that’s likely regardless.

      And no the whole country hasn’t heard this story YET but I do find it interesting that the coverage in the New York Times is more complete than that available locally. But I find it odd that you’d even care about that lead in.

    • Paul says:

      We decided as a culture that 12 year old children are not competent to make adult decisions so we don’t let them join the military, drink alcohol, buy cigarettes or vote. We also should not treat them as adults in terms of legal consequences. Yes, the crime is heinous, but children are not neurologically capable of making reasoned decisions like adults.

  3. EmmaR says:

    Very difficult for any DA, Republican or Democrat, to not see these girls as sadistic and predatory.

  4. Patricia Wisniewski says:

    This story has been all over CNN and other national news outlets. The whole country has heard about this.

    Anyway, as liberal as I am, I disagree. This was a well thought out plan. They stabbed a fellow child NINETEEN times. This is not a couple kids “beating someone up” or shoplifting. They weren’t “playing a game”. They stabbed her multiple times and left her for dead. I’m sorry, but at some point during the whole tirade, even a 12 year old knows what they’re doing is not right or legal. They weren’t even scared enough to stop! Or get her help!

    Maybe I’ll change my tune over time, but right now I just can’t get on board with this.

  5. ® Steve says:

    What a surprise a liberal that supports a slap on the wrist. You create shootings like in Tom Barrett’s Milwaukee where a girl gets a stray bullet to the head by a murderer tried as a juvie that was just released

    These girls knew what they were doing and had many chances to turn back. They chose to continue. Read the entire admission and report.

    Let them back out when they are only 25? You are as sick as these girls.

    • John Casper says:

      Trademark, as a conservative, and since you’ve read the “entire admission and report,” who else knew?

      If they, “knew what they were doing,” how did the victim survive?

      Based on your reading of the “entire admission and report,” were others “acting in concert,” or are they otherwise chargeable with “depraved indifference/negligence…..?”

      If so, what kind of prison time could they be facing?

      Where were the parents? Since you’ve read the “entire admission and report,” should they be retaining counsel?

  6. Jon Sobstad says:

    I live in Hawaii and I have seen multiple reports on this. So while I’m sure the coverage in Honolulu isn’t as complete as Milwaukee, anyone who pays any attention to the news has heard of this story. That said, I agree with Ed. No matter how you cut it, these girls ARE NOT ADULTS! Why does Wisconsin have a juvenile justice system? Only for jaywalking and shoplifting? No. It’s exactly for cases like this. Twelve year olds are simply not capable of fully understanding the consequences of their actions. It’s that simple. Someone here frets they might be released at 25. Do the math. That’s a sentence of more then the entirety of their lives to this point. That seems more than adequate to me. What would be enough? Life without parole? The death penalty? Maybe I’m being a Pollyanna but I’d like to believe we as a society are capable of saving 12 year olds, of being able to rehabilitate them and not just toss them in adult prison and insure they will always be pahriahs.

  7. Ed Heinzelman says:

    by the time I wrote this the news certainly was spreading around the country…but I was in Scottsdale AZ when it happened and I didn’t see anything about it there until two or three days later.

    but no matter how heinous the crime, it was still 12 year olds. they aren’t and don’t think like adults. just read their explanations. if an adult had done this and used that story line he/she would probably be ruled incompetent to stand trial.

    and who assumed I support a slap on the wrist…I don’t…but I don’t think they can be tried as adults.

    and I find it interesting that the NY Times article didn’t use any names or photos.

  8. Ed, I agree with the principle that these children should be handled as such. From the purely legal point of view, should one want these girls to receive harsh punishment, try them as the minors that they are. I think that trying them as adults would certainly end up with the case being dismissed due to the filing of improper, inappropriate charges. Over charge them, and they could be spared any punishment at all. Double jeopardy may even come into the picture if they are convicted as adults and that is used as a basis for their appeal. I’m no attorney, but it seems that these are possibilities that must be considered.

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