State v. Geyser, Appeal No. 2018AP1897-CR

CourtCourt of Appeals of Wisconsin
Writing for the CourtGUNDRUM, J.
Citation2020 WI App 58,949 N.W.2d 594,394 Wis.2d 96
Parties STATE of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Morgan E. GEYSER, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket NumberAppeal No. 2018AP1897-CR
Decision Date12 August 2020

394 Wis.2d 96
949 N.W.2d 594
2020 WI App 58

STATE of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Respondent,
Morgan E. GEYSER, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal No. 2018AP1897-CR

Court of Appeals of Wisconsin.

Submitted on Briefs: October 10, 2019
Opinion Filed: August 12, 2020

On behalf of the defendant-appellant, the cause was submitted on the briefs of Matthew S. Pinix of Pinix & Soukup, LLC, Milwaukee.

On behalf of the plaintiff-respondent, the cause was submitted on the brief of Joshua L. Kaul, attorney general, and Katherine D. Lloyd, assistant attorney general.

A nonparty brief was filed by Randall E. Paulson of Paulson Law Office, Milwaukee, and Marsha L. Levick of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for Juvenile Law Center.

Before Neubauer, C.J., Reilly, P.J., and Gundrum, J.


949 N.W.2d 596
394 Wis.2d 99

¶1 On May 31, 2014, twelve-year-old Morgan Geyser, with the aid of twelve-year-old Anissa Weier, repeatedly stabbed her friend, the twelve-year-old victim in this case. Geyser's attack brought the victim to the brink of death, but she very fortunately survived. As a result of the attack, Geyser and Weier were charged in adult court with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, with use of a dangerous weapon, as parties to the crime.

¶2 A preliminary hearing was held to determine whether probable cause existed that Geyser and Weier had committed that adult-court-jurisdiction-conferring offense and thus whether the matter should remain in adult court. Despite the efforts of Geyser and Weier to convince the court the charge should be reduced to attempted second-degree intentional homicide—resulting in a loss of exclusive original adult-court jurisdiction—the court found probable cause that both defendants committed attempted first-degree intentional homicide and bound them over for trial in adult court. In this appeal, Geyser claims the court erred in binding her over rather than discharging her from adult court. We conclude the court did not err.

¶3 As the case was pending, Geyser filed a motion to suppress a statement she made to Waukesha

394 Wis.2d 100

Police Department Detective Thomas Casey following the attack.1 She claimed, and claims on appeal, that she did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive her Miranda2 rights prior to providing this statement, and thus the statement was unconstitutionally procured, and the circuit court erred in declining to suppress it. We need not decide whether the court erred in denying this motion because we conclude that even if it did err, such error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt due to the additional, unchallenged and overwhelming evidence in this case.


¶4 The following evidence was presented at the preliminary hearing.

949 N.W.2d 597

¶5 Detective Michelle Trussoni of the Waukesha Police Department testified as to her interview of

394 Wis.2d 101

accomplice Weier following the attack. Weier told Trussoni that she and Geyser had engaged in significant planning to kill the victim for months leading up to the attack, and Geyser had decided, and Weier agreed, they would kill the victim in conjunction with a birthday sleepover at Geyser's house May 30 through May 31, 2014. Weier told Trussoni about a fictional internet character named Slenderman and that prior to the attack, Geyser had told Weier they needed to become "proxies" of Slenderman and could do so by killing the victim. Although Weier "struggled with" the decision to kill the victim, "she really wanted to prove the skeptics wrong and ... prove herself worthy of Slenderman."

¶6 Geyser came up with the original murder plan, which was for her and Weier to wake up around 2:00 a.m. during the sleepover, put duct tape over the victim's mouth, and "stab [her] in the neck and she would bleed out." They ended up not attacking the victim during the night, but in the morning agreed they would kill her at the park by stabbing her in one of the bathroom stalls. They chose the bathroom because "the blood would then drain down into the ... floor drain," and they "could close the door to the stall, nobody would know [the victim] was in there." After killing the victim, they would begin a trek to Nicolet National Forest in Northern Wisconsin to live with Slenderman.

¶7 The morning of the sleepover the three girls left Geyser's home and headed for the park, but before doing so, Geyser took a knife, which she showed to Weier on the way to the park. Once in the bathroom at the park, Geyser gave Weier the knife. Geyser grabbed the victim's arms from behind, but Weier was "too squeamish" to stab the victim. Weier struck the victim in the head, attempting to "knock her out," and subsequently

394 Wis.2d 102

made an excuse to the victim for striking her. All three eventually left the bathroom and went for a walk in the woods. Geyser and Weier agreed they would attack the victim there.

¶8 They began to "play" hide-and-seek in the woods. Geyser and Weier agreed that Geyser would stab the victim when Weier told her to. Weier subsequently stated, "[D]o it now" and "go ballistic, go crazy," or something similar, at which point Geyser began stabbing the victim repeatedly. They left the victim in the woods, and as they walked from the area, Geyser told Weier she believed she stabbed the victim seventeen times.

¶9 Detective Shelley Fisher testified to her interview of the victim a week after the attack. The victim told Fisher that she, Geyser, and Weier all slept over at Geyser's house in celebration of Geyser's birthday. After breakfast, Geyser suggested they go to the park. Geyser packed a bag with food, as well as some pictures, which the victim found to be "somewhat unusual ... just to go to the park." After playing at the park for a while, they went into the bathroom, where Weier struck the victim's head, causing it to hit the wall. Next, Geyser told the victim and Weier to go into the bathroom stall to look at some vandalism, and when all three were in the stall, Geyser locked the door. Geyser said there really was no vandalism and then held the victim's arms back. Weier was in front of the victim, but nothing happened, prompting Geyser to say to Weier, "I thought we agreed you were going to do this" and "I need to talk to you in the next stall." Geyser and Weier went into the next stall to talk. They came back into the stall with the victim, and this time Weier held the victim's arms back while Geyser was in front of the victim, staring at her and "her arm was

394 Wis.2d 103

rubbing the large bag

949 N.W.2d 598

that she had brought with her." Nothing more happened, so Weier told the victim to go out to the park and play, which the victim did.

¶10 Geyser and Weier emerged from the bathroom several minutes later. Geyser suggested the three take a walk in the woods, and once in the woods, Weier suggested they play hide-and-seek. While "hiding" with the victim, Weier directed the victim to lay on the ground, which she did. Moments later, Geyser and Weier approached the victim. Geyser sat on the victim's legs, brought her face real close to the victim's face, whispered "I'm so sorry" in the victim's ear, and then began repeatedly stabbing the victim and pushing her down during the attack. They told the victim they were going to go get help; they then ran away. A passerby later secured aid for the victim.

¶11 On cross-examination, Fisher testified that during her investigation she learned of no other incidents of violent actions by Geyser and that the victim indicated this was the only occasion on which Geyser had been violent toward her. Following the attack, Fisher also found a notebook in Geyser's school locker with drawings of Slenderman and a picture of a girl "holding a knife and there's blood dripping from the knife and there's blood on her clothing."

¶12 Washington County Correctional Officer Shelley Grunke testified that Geyser was brought to the Washington County Juvenile Detention Center several hours after the attack. As part of standard processing, Grunke asked Geyser if she "planned to do anything to end her life," to which Geyser responded, "not mine, no, not mine." With follow-up questions, Grunke learned that Geyser was referring to her "best friend." Geyser stated, "[W]ell, she was my best friend," but "[s]he hates me now, but it had to be done."

394 Wis.2d 104

Geyser also indicated she had started planning to kill the victim in December 2013.

¶13 Casey testified to his interview of Geyser at the police department several hours after the attack. Geyser told Casey that she and Weier had been planning the attack for months and were initially planning to kill the victim in conjunction with Geyser's birthday sleepover. They originally planned to stab the victim in the middle of the...

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    ...orders for text messages made by MTI's clients. Here, MTI unilaterally made all of those decisions—who its clients would be, the content 949 N.W.2d 594 of the text messages, how the text messages would be managed, and, most significantly, where and to whom the text messages would be sent.¶6......
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