BOULDER – Parents of kids whose names appeared on a reported “death list”, authored by a 16-year-old murder suspect, described their fear, heartache and pain during a hearing to ultimately determine if the teen will be tried as an adult.
The suspect is facing first-degree murder charges in the Nov. 18, 2017 stabbing of 20-year-old Makayla Grote.
Grote’s father Troy also testified Tuesday, about his reaction when he found out a teen who had threatened his younger daughter—had allegedly killed her older sister.
“I dropped to the ground,” he said. “I couldn’t understand how this could happen.”
9NEWS has chosen not to name the teen, as his case is still being heard in juvenile court. The purpose of the week-long hearing that started Monday is for a Boulder judge to decide whether the teen should be prosecuted as an adult.
The 16-year-old has been charged with multiple counts, including first-degree murder. 9Wants to Know investigative reporter Anastasiya Bolton is covering the hearing.
OUR FAMILY WAS ON A "DEATH LIST"
Paul Troyer was the first one to take the stand Tuesday. He told the judge his son knew the suspect; they ran cross-country together at Green Mountain High School and his son often gave the suspect rides.
Troyer told the court he learned from a detective that his family was on the “kill list” with specific action next to their name.
The 16-year-old suspect intended to burn their house down, Troyer said he was told.
“This was pretty devastating to our family,” he testified, “the fact that a murder had been committed and there was intent to harm our family by someone who clearly was committed to perform that act, with the knowledge that preparation had been taken; we were all very scared.”
Troyer said he used to carry his gun only when out of the home but this situation changed him: he now carries inside as well.
BACKGROUND | Judge hears testimony in Longmont stabbing case
His son, who used to enjoy inviting friends to their house and hosting team dinners, no longer wants to have anyone over.
Troyer testified his wife and son changed the route they walk the dog because their old route took them to the suspect’s home.
“Makes me quite distressed that he knows where we live,” Troyer said, “he knows what car my son drives. It makes me very concerned.”
“HE WAS ON THE GROUND SOBBING HYSTERICALLY.”
The mother of another teen on the suspect’s “kill list” testified that her son was “was on the ground sobbing hysterically,” when he learned the news.
Dorothy Colagiovanni said his reaction was surprising. “I’ve never seen my child do that before. He could not understand how this type of thing could happen to him.”
Colagiovanni said her son had been friends with the suspect since the 6th grade, he’d been to at least one of her son’s birthday parties, and he’d been to their home. She also testified the last time her son had really talked to the suspect was two years ago.
“(He was) somebody we were friends with,” she said. “It’s one thing to create a list, but to act on it, that is incomprehensible to us,” she testified.
She said she never imagined the suspect would be “that kid.”
HARD WORKER, COACHABLE, LISTENED TO COACHING ADVICE
Clint Boston coached the suspect for two seasons on the cross-country team, as well as track and field teams. He testified that at one point the suspect received an award for athletic and academic achievement.
“I suspect you could live another couple of hundred years and would never see [an event] like this,” Boston said in court.
He testified what happened had a huge impact on his team; now the students and the coach check in on each other.
Last fall, the teen could no longer run because he was not academically eligible, according to court testimony.
In September, he also transferred from Green Mountain High School to Longview High School, an alternative school in Jefferson County, court testimony revealed.
After the transfer, the suspect’s father had a hard time making sure the teen made practices, which also disqualified him from participating in meets.
“I WISH THERE WAS SOMETHING I COULD’VE DONE.”
Michael Brown was a military medic, part of the initial invasion of Fallujah, he told the court.
He started crying when talking about seeing Grote laying injured in front of his apartment after she had been stabbed in the chest.
“I feel really sad about it,” he said breaking down. “I wish there was something I could’ve done.”
Brown, who used to be Grote’s neighbor in a Longmont apartment complex, said he had to move because he couldn’t get the images out of his head.
PLANS OF ESCAPE AFTER THE MURDER ARREST
Aaron Howard told the court he works at the Boulder Juvenile Assessment Center.
He said after the teen suspect’s November 19 arrest, he overheard the suspect telling another teen at the center, “I would try to do it either on a transport [or] at intake to Platte,” Howard told the court.
Howard said it sounded like the teens were talking about an escape. He said Boulder Court security is now transporting the suspect, because of the statements he made about escaping.
SHE WASN’T JUST MY DAUGHTER, SHE WAS MY BEST FRIEND
“She was my buddy,” said Troy Grote, the victim’s father.
Grote described the state of mind of his younger daughter, now 18, who was the suspect’s original target, according to earlier court testimony. He said the young woman could not sleep, wouldn’t take showers unless everyone was home.
“She’s terrified,” he said.
His wife and the victim’s mom could not work because she helps her younger daughter deal with her fear. They aren’t sure if or when she will go to college because she won’t leave the home.
Grote told the court he has since taught his daughter how to shoot a gun. She also keeps a bat handy and locks the door as soon as she’s inside.
ONE OF THE MAIN DETECTIVES IN THE CASE TESTIFIES
Longmont Police Detective Steve Desmond was one of the main detectives on the case.
He testified about including interviewing the victim’s younger sister right after the murder, as well as talking to numerous teachers at Green Mountain High where there the suspect went to school.
Desmond also testified about details he read from other reports in the case. He said one report described an interview with the suspect’s father after Grote was murdered.
The father was hospitalized because he was suicidal, and was concerned police were going to kill his son, according to Desmond.
The suspect’s father told police that his son started attending an alternative school in the fall and seemed to be doing better.
Desmond also testified about interviewing the victim’s younger sister. She told police she was close friends with the suspect, they texted, Snapchatted and talked on the phone every day. But she told the detective the suspect stopped being open over the last few months.
Desmond’s testimony shed some light on what happened leading up to the murder. He testified that the suspect went to the victim’s apartment that morning, around 11 a.m. Desmond said the suspect spoke to the victim’s younger sister before being asked by the girl’s mother to leave.
He testified the suspect returned around 6 p.m. that day. The victim’s younger sister told police she heard a scream and saw her sister, Makayla Grote, near the front door of the apartment being injured.
Desmond told the court the victim’s sister went into a bedroom to get her phone and call 911. Desmond said the suspect come towards her, she closed the bedroom door, but he broke it down and they were face to face, according to testimony in court.
“He had every chance to hurt her and refused,” Desmond testified.
The last text Grote sent to her family was at 5:22 p.m. November 18, minutes before her death. She texted that she was starting her weekend off right.
The suspect left and was arrested a short time after the murder in Lakewood.
Desmond also testified about interviewing a teenage girl who spent time with the suspect while they were both at the Juvenile Assessment Center. The teen told the detective the murder suspect had planned and talked about escaping.
The detective also told the court, the teen girl said she was “very scared” of the suspect. She described to the detective what happened when she asked the suspect if he would kill her. She told the detective the suspect said to her, “don’t give me a reason.”
When she asked the suspect if he had regrets about what happened, he told her it didn’t bother him and he would do it again, according to Desmond’s court testimony Tuesday.
Desmond said the suspect told the other teen he was on medication, it made him “insane” and made him “kill this girl.”
The detective told the court the suspect was prescribed the generic version of Accutane, an acne medicine.
Monday’s testimony established that on October 15, the suspect told the victim’s younger sister on Snapchat that he had compiled a death list. She reported it to police and Lakewood police officers interviewed him the next day, October 16. Tuesday’s testimony revealed 5 names were on the death list, some were families, some were individuals.
Desmond said Lakewood police, while not finding anything in his room, took the suspect into custody October 16.
The suspect was hospitalized at Highlands Behavioral Health from October 16 until October 24 because of those threats, according to court testimony.
Desmond testified the suspect told police the medication he was on made him feel like he couldn’t feel anything.
Testimony continues throughout the week.