Wisconsin Slenderman Case Raises Many Unanswered Questions

On June 1, 2014, a trio of twelve-year-old girls ventured into the woods in Waukesha, Wisconsin, for a sinister game of hide-and-seek – a game that ended with 19 stab wounds and a slew of questions from the public.

Two of the girls, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, allegedly ganged up on their friend with a kitchen knife and left her, bleeding and helpless, until a bicyclist found her on Saturday morning. The most perplexing part of the children’s violent out lash was their motivation: to win the favor of a fictional internet character called Slenderman.Slenderman

Geyser and Weir discovered Slenderman on the website Creepy Pasta, which features fictional horror stories from contributing users. The website clearly advertises that its contents are not factual, but the girls became obsessed with the character. According to the stories’ lore, Slenderman is a ghostly, faceless man who stalks and eats children. Over the course of several months, the girls became determined to win Slenderman’s approval by committing a similar crime. Geyser admitted that they had been planning to kill their friend since February.

Despite the numerous stab wounds, including one that was a mere millimeter from puncturing her heart, the girl lived and is now recovering at home. Police arrested Geyser and Weier hours after the girl was found. After being held on preliminary charges of first-degree attempted homicide, the two girls are being tried as adults, and bail has been set for each at $500,000.

As news of the girls’ charges reached the press, much debate has arisen about how the law should handle this pair of allegedly homicidal preteens. According to Geyser’s attorney, Anthony Cotton, Geyser is being held at a female juvenile detention facility, and the girls’ parents are appalled and shocked. Both girls, at this point in the case’s development, are being tried as adults. Cotton expects that they will both be subject to a mental evaluation soon in order to fairly determine the motivations behind the girls’ heinous actions.

Many are quick to blame Creepy Pasta, the place of Slenderman’s online origins. The girls’ apparently unmonitored access to the website – which has a gateway upon entry asking to confirm the user is 18 or older – lead many people to blame both parents and the website’s unfiltered content. The website issued a lengthy statement stating that they do not condone violence in any capacity and announced their new charity, Narrators uNighted, whose proceeds will go towards both the victim and preventative measures against similar violence.

If tried as adults and found guilty, Geyser and Weier could face up to 65 years in prison.

Usable Marijuana Requirements in Arizona

Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) opened the door to medical marijuana years ago, but will not budge on opening it any more in 2014.

ADHS rejected a proposed expansion – adding illnesses to the list of approved marijuana-treated conditions – of the state’s medical marijuana program more than 3 years after approving the Act which allows the use of medical marijuana, with a 50.13 percent approval.Recreational Marijuana in Colorado

The state’s current policy on medical marijuana is protected by Proposition 203, which was passed in November 2010 and put into effect in April 2011. The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act removes state-level criminal penalties on the use of marijuana for qualifying patients who have received “written certification” from their physician to alleviate symptoms of chronic conditions and illnesses.

Among these illnesses, include cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease; any medical condition producing cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, and severe nausea or seizures.

A recent petition in 2014 suggested adding post traumatic stress disorder, migraines and depression to the list of medical marijuana approved conditions, but it was shot down by the state’s Department of Health Services Director, Will Humble.

Current medical marijuana cardholders are permitted to purchase, and have on their person, up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana in a 14 day period.

According to the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, usable marijuana consists of “the dried flowers of the marijuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof, but does not include the seeds, stalks and roots of the plant and does not include the weight of any non-marijuana ingredients combined with marijuana and prepared for consumption as food or drink.”

Although the qualifying patients are protected under Arizona law, they must adhere to the rules set by the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. The law prohibits driving or operating a motor vehicle, boat or aircraft while under the influence, ingesting marijuana in a public place or on public transportation, and cultivation of more than 12 marijuana plants in a “locked and enclosed facility” only if the patient is not within 25 miles of a dispensary.

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act does not require employers or landowners to allow the ingestion of marijuana in the workplace on on their private property, but it does protect against discriminatory acts that affect the hiring, leasing or treatment of a qualifying patient.

Increased Use of Video Appeals May Result in More Lenient Sentencings

Emotional videos are being presented in court to mitigate defendant sentencing in hopes of a more lenient verdict.

These documentary-style films, typically featuring the convicted person along with interviews of family, friends and coworkers offering good judgement on the defendant’s character and lifestyle with the goal of inspiring a lighter sentencing, could be the newest trend reaching court rooms nationwide.

Under federal law, convicted persons have the right to present the court with any information that may lessen his or her sentencing, and now documentary-style films are being utilized more frequently in some public defenders’ offices to supplement letters and memorandums that are more normally presented in the mitigation process, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Randy Ray Rivera of Massachusetts pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute crack-cocaine in 2013. Federal prosecutors sought a very typical 30 years in prison to life sentence for an offender of Rivera’s caliber; he had more than a dozen drug-related convictions since 1998.

A federal district judge in Vermont sentenced Rivera to only 12 years in prison, less than half of the sentencing prosecutors had argued for.

How is this possible? A sentencing-mitigation video may have been the key in Rivera’s case.

Rivera was the subject of a film which featured him in prison uniform while at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn as well as his siblings, children, girlfriend and a social worker who all spoke on Rivera’s tough past that drove him to support his family by dealing drugs as a teen, such as his heroine-addict mother who died from AIDs.

While the use of these videos is rare, Doug Passon, a veteran assistant federal public defender in Arizona, believes they do aid the mitigation process, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“The sentences are almost always better than they would otherwise be,” Passon said of the use and effect of sentencing videos.

Passon was introduced to sentencing videos in 1995 when he was a law student at Washington University in 1995. He was a clerk for an attorney who used a powerful sentencing-mitigation video in the case of a man with drug charges who needed a lenient sentencing in order to be home with his wife who was dying of lupus.

Sentencing film festival at federal public defender training conferences have been held by Passon for the past five years, making him a trailblazer of the sentencing-mitigation video industry in the eyes of his peers.

Proponents of this technique, including some private lawyers and investigators, use the films to supplement their legal arguments and provide context to a defendant’s or victim’s life in order to convey information a court typically would not have access to otherwise.

The drawback, critics believe, is that the context that is being featured in these videos is not realistic because it’s edited, and the interviewed witnesses aren’t available in court for further questioning.

For example, most films, including documentaries, are edited to highlight a certain idea or point of view to communicate the message of the film to the viewer.

In the case of sentence-mitigating videos, a defendant’s actions may be put into context by allowing the opportunity to explain his or her life with the support of interviews of loved ones and neighbors. While this information can be used to put the crimes in context, the other side of the story isn’t communicated in these videos, such as the damage the crimes of these individuals may have caused a community.

Despite criticism and rejection from some courts, sentence-mitigating films are catching interest.

“There are definitely cases where a sentencing memo in black and white doesn’t cut it,” said Susan Randall in The Wall Street Journal.

Randall is a former documentary filmmaker who is now a private investigator in Vermont. She has produced over 20 sentence-mitigating films for a range of clients including Rivera.

Another proponent of these films is Katrina Daniel, a former TV crime reporter who started her own production company, has made 10 sentencing films since 2012.

Daniel charges $5,000 to $20,000 for her videos which can include interviews from the defendant and their supporters. Her films aim to portray the remorse and the acceptance of responsibility by the defendant.

There is no guarantee that the use of documentary videos will result in reduced penalties. In fact, thousands of federal cases still end in criminal sentences every year. However, sentencing videos are a new appeals strategy gaining popularity in law offices and drawing the attention of judges in court.

Arizona DUI Lawyers Corso Law Group Caution Against Drinking and Driving This Fourth of July Weekend

Drinking and driving never mix but the Arizona DUI lawyers at Corso Law Group know Arizona DUIs are even more dangerous over the July 4th weekend.

The Arizona DUI lawyers at Corso Law Group know the long Fourth of July weekend can be a dangerous proposition for many Arizonans.

“It’s really about letting your guard down,” said Arizona DUI lawyer Christopher P. Corso of Corso Law Group. “Long holiday weekends always pose trouble for Arizona DUIs because many people host backyard parties or barbecues, forget that they’ve been drinking all day long and then get in a car to run to the store or drive a loved one home. It’s a summer recipe for disaster.”Arizona DUI Attorneys Corso Law Group

The hazards of drinking and driving in Arizona are very familiar to Corso. He previously prosecuted DUIs, DWIs and OUIs for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

“In the time, we’ve seen a lot of different scenarios for being arrested for an Arizona DUI but one thing remains the same – drinking and driving don’t mix, especially in Arizona, which has some of the nation’s toughest DUI laws,” Corso said. “That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced DUI lawyer on your side.”

For people suspected of a DUI in Arizona, Corso cautions that they must understand their rights including the right to remain silent; only providing insurance, registration and identification; and refusing to submit to all field sobriety tests.

According to Corso, a blood and alcohol test is the only test a person suspected of drunk driving should take.

Arizona takes DUI laws very seriously, Corso said, even for first time offenders. Any person found guilty of drinking and driving is required to serve a minimum of 24 hours in jail, even if there were no damages or injuries involved. Heavy fines are also included with DUI convictions and can be as high as $2,500 plus additional charges. Other penalties assessed include suspension of driving privileges, probation and the installation of an ignition interlock device.

Every DUI defense case in Arizona is different, and the outcome is dependent upon the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the DUI charges, which makes having an experienced Arizona DUI defense attorney even more important. In addition to DUIs and DWIs, the Arizona criminal defense attorneys at Corso Law Group handle myriad criminal cases, including domestic violence defense, possession of drugs, felony drug charges, photo radar, criminal speeding, disorderly conduct and marijuana possession.

Corso Law Group’s Arizona DUI attorneys do everything in their power to protect defendants’ families and advocate for their rights. They have the experience and expertise to deal with DUI charges in Arizona and will fight to get the charges dismissed while counseling the accused’s family.

To schedule a free consultation, please visit www.corsolawgroup.com or call (480) 471-4616. Corso Law Group, PLLC is located at 14500 N. Northsight Blvd., Suite 116 in Scottsdale, Arizona, 85260.