LONGMONT, Colo. - A judge is hearing testimony to decide if a 15-year-old boy accused of stabbing and killing a 20-year-old Longmont woman last November should be tried as an adult.
12 News's sister station 9NEWS has chosen not to name the teen suspect because the case is still being heard in juvenile court.
The Boulder District Attorney’s office has charged the teen, now 16-years-old, with 11 counts -- including first degree murder. The DA wants to move the case to district court.
The victim, Makayla Grote, was stabbed to death. In court testimony, a forensic pathologist testified Makala had been stabbed in the chest, damaging her heart.
The expert also testified that Grote tried to protect herself from the attacker and had defensive wounds on her arms and hands.
9Wants to Know reporter Anastasiya Bolton is covering the hearing this week. On Monday, multiple law enforcement agents who had come into contact with the suspect late last year testified about those interactions.
THE KILL LIST
The first witness, a detective from the Longmont Police Department, told the court the teen had a “kill list” of people he intended to murder.
The list included some of his friends and how he planned to murder them, according to the detective.
The “kill list” or “death list,” as it was referred to in court, was found in the teen’s room. According to court testimony, the death list mentioned that Grote’s younger sister would be tortured.
“Torture till she begs for mercy,” the note read, according to testimony from Longmont Police Detective Brian Dean. “Make her fight, then take hostage.”
9NEWS is not naming Grote’s younger sister because she is considered a victim of harassment herself.
Dean told the court the suspect had a red notebook that had the beginnings of a letter to the victim’s younger sister, a list of supplies including ingredients for Molotov cocktails, duct tape and gloves.
Another letter, this time an apology, was also found and written by the suspect to the victim’s younger sister.
The testimony did not reveal the number of names on the “death list.”
Lakewood Police Agent Brandon Saunders testified that the suspect discussed the existence of the list with the victim’s sister on Snapchat on Oct. 15.
The girl asked the suspect if he was kidding, and begged him not to hurt her friend. She was offering to do “anything” to keep her friend safe.
Saunders testified that the suspect then asked the victim’s younger sister to reveal the last name of her friend, to supposedly keep her “off the list,” but she would not share that information.
The younger sister of the woman who was eventually murdered reported the conversation to Lakewood police, who then confronted the suspect about the list on Oct. 16 in front of his parents at their home.
But, the suspect told police he made up the existence of the list in his Snapchat.
A Lakewood police agent testified the suspect told him he was “stressed” and showed him evidence of cutting himself. The suspect also told police he was taking Accutane for acne and it was “messing with his head.”
The Lakewood police agent told the court the police searched the suspect’s room that day, but didn’t find anything.
On Nov. 18, a month after the suspect was questioned for the kill list, the older sister of the girl the suspect was Snapchatting with was stabbed to death.
THE DAY BEFORE THE MURDER
Agent Jennifer Dougherty from Lakewood Police told the court the suspect’s mother called police reporting that he’d been aggressive at the home, kicked in a door and came at his mother with a knife.
His mother also told Dougherty that she a found a number of weapon-like devices -- including Molotov cocktails and a machete -- in his bedroom.
That was on Nov. 17, the day before Grote’s stabbing death.
Dougherty testified the suspect’s mother told her she’d searched her son’s room twice. The second time she found six mason jars with rags and lighter fluid inside -- devices commonly known as Molotov cocktails, according to court testimony.
The suspect’s mother also told the agent she found a machete, a backpack with a kitchen knife and a piece of foil that was rolled in a tube.
All of the items were no longer in the suspect’s room when Dougherty got to the home, she said.
By the time she got to the suspect’s house, he’d already left.
Dougherty told the court she didn’t seize any of items, including the homemade explosive devices and the machete, telling the court the family didn’t want to press charges. The agent instead took pictures of the items, and testified that she felt they were documented and that was “enough.”
Dougherty also told the court she checked with her supervisor, who affirmed her decision not to take the items. That person was not named in court.
AFTER THE STABBING
Detective Cody Clark of Longmont police testified about multiple interviews he conducted with witnesses, including the victim’s mother, after the victim was found stabbed. She was believed to be alive at the time.
Clark said the victim’s mother told him the suspect had been at their house before the attack, and spoke with the victim’s younger sister, the girl he had been messaging on Snapchat. The victim’s mother asked the suspect to leave—but he said he couldn’t because his car wouldn’t start. The victim’s mother and a neighbor had to help get his car started.
Detective Clark was not asked about what happened after the suspect left the day of the stabbing, before the end of court on Monday.
OTHER PEOPLE ON THE KILL LIST
Detective Clark did testify to other people who were on the suspect’s kill list.
The list included a friend of the suspect’s from fourth grade. That friend was making plans with the suspect to “hang out” but the suspect canceled.
When the detective told the suspect’s friend he was on the kill list, the friend was “shocked and at a loss for words,” according to court testimony.
Clark also interviewed another family member whose son used to be friends with the suspect.
Clark told the court this family was “shocked they were on the list, couldn’t figure out why they were.”
SUSPECT’S MENTAL HEALTH HISTORY
Michael Rafik, a defense attorney for the teen suspect, told the court Monday that the boy had “no prior mental health diagnosis, until October of 2017, (when) he became erratic, aggressive, violent, suicidal, homicidal.”
Longmont Police testified about the suspect’s health insurance records.
Longmont police detective Brian Dean testified that investigators found records in the suspect’s home from his health insurance company that he had been approved for adolescent mental health services on three different dates, including Oct. 25, Nov. 4 and Nov. 8. He also found evidence in the suspect’s house regarding a safety crisis plan dated November 7, and a suicide prevention plan for the teen dated Sept. 25.
Rafik said in his opening statements that the suspect was “a teen everyone knew was lost.”
The transfer hearing that started Monday in front of Judge Andrew Macdonald has a dual purpose: It’s a preliminary hearing, where evidence in the case is being laid out, and it’s a transfer hearing, at the end of which Judge Macdonald will decide where the case will be tried and if the boy will be tried as an adult.
Testimony continues throughout the week.
It’s not clear yet if the judge will decide the future of this case at the end of testimony in court, or will issue a written decision later.