A decision on whether two Wisconsin girls who are accused of stabbing their classmate should be tried in adult court will be made next month.
A preliminary hearing has heard testimony over the past two days in the case of two girls, ages 12 and 13, who are accused of luring their 12-year-old friend into the woods in Waukesha, Wisconsin, before stabbing her 19 times on May 31 last year.
The pair reportedly both told investigators they carried out the attack – which the girl survived – to please Slender Man, an online character they believed was real.
According to ABC News, an attorney for one of the girls told the court that neither girl has denied culpability for the stabbing, but say they committed the crime because they believed in Slender Man.
A psychologist also gave evidence on behalf of one of the girls, telling the court the attack could be considered "self-defense" because she feared the creature would hurt her family unless she killed her friend, the Associated Press notes.
The judge will decide at a hearing on March 13 whether the girls will be tried as adults or juveniles. The New York Daily News reports that if tried as adults, they face up to 60 years in prison, but could be released by the age of 25 if they are tried as juveniles.