The afternoon before Linda Damm was stabbed to death in her Lafayette home, her daughter, Tess, and the girl's boyfriend, Bryan Grove, discussed in the kitchen the best way to kill the 52-year-old woman, according to testimony Wednesday in Boulder County District Court.

Tess Damm, 15, wanted to add enough medications to her alcoholic mother's drink that she would die of an overdose. They could bury the body, she said.

Grove, 17, favored using a knife to do the deed and then possibly burning the corpse.

Police officers revealed elaborate details of the February slaying during a daylong preliminary hearing for the teen couple. Judge Lael Montgomery ultimately agreed that prosecutors had enough evidence to proceed to trial with first-degree murder charges against them both, despite previously charging Tess Damm only with conspiracy to commit the crime.

Police found Linda Damm's decaying body in the back of a Subaru in the garage of her home at 705 W. Brome Place on Feb. 28 after receiving a tip from Grove's friend Hassan Bateman.

Grove told police he choked and stabbed Damm to death weeks earlier after getting into an argument about her alcoholic and abusive behavior toward Tess. Tess drove around the neighborhood with their friend, Jared Smith, while Grove did the crime, police said.

However, prosecutors said Wednesday that Tess Damm was more complicit in the crime than previously believed.


They based the first-degree murder charge against her on information provided by Smith after he entered a plea deal with the Boulder County District Attorney's Office.

Smith, 16, pleaded guilty last month to being an accessory to the crime and was sentenced to two years in juvenile prison.

Smith told police that the day before the slaying, Tess and her mother argued over her shoddy school attendance. Linda Damm then gave Tess, Grove and Smith $40 to go bowling.

When they returned, Smith said, he was tinkering on the Damms' computer when he overheard Tess Damm andGrove talking about different ways to kill her mom. Grove suggested stabbing, and he picked up the kitchen knife that he ultimately used, Smith said. Tess Damm told him that would be too messy and suggested they drug her alcoholic drink. Grove went so far as to retrieve Linda Damm's bottle of alcohol from her room, and they rummaged through the medicine cabinet.

Linda Damm came downstairs for a smoke as the couple plotted, Smith told police, and when she returned upstairs, Grove told her he'd be bringing her drink up. But then he changed his mind.

"Bryan said, 'No. We're going to IHOP," Lafayette police Detective Scott Robinson testified as Smith's recollection of the event.

During their few hours at the Westminster pancake restaurant that night, Smith said, Linda Damm called her daughter's cell phone 10 times, demanding that the teen return home or she would call the police. The couple ignored the calls and continued to talk about how to kill Damm, and even how to dispose of her body, Smith told police.

Linda Damm called one last time to say that Grove could no longer stay at her home, and a duffel bag with his stuff would be sitting out in front of the house for him, Smith said.

In the car parked outside the house after the IHOP meal, Tess Damm asked Grove if they could get away with murder, and his reply was that he was 100 percent sure they would, Smith said. And with that, Grove grabbed his iPod, gave Tess Damm a kiss and headed into the house.

After 20 minutes, Smith said, Damm was nervous and called Grove. She asked why it was taking so long, and she later told Smith that Grove sounded out of breath.

Grove called a short time later and asked Smith to help him move Damm's body from the woman's bedroom to the back of her car.

The three teens then watched the movie "School of Rock" and went to sleep, Smith said.

Damm's defense attorney Beth Kelley blasted Smith's credibility.

"There's clearly an interest for him to make his codefendants take the fall," she told the court.

Defense attorneys dissected police missteps, including that they have not yet processed the evidence from the crime scene.

"They have no physical evidence that points to any individual in this case," Public Defender Seth Temin told the court.

He also asked the detective if it would be considered important information if it turns out Smith's DNA is on the murder weapon, to which Robinson replied it would.

Prosecutor Karen Peters defended her decision to add the first-degree murder charge against Tess Damm just last week.

"She's the one that put the hammer down and told Bryan to kill her mother," Peters told the court. "He did it because Tess Damm gave him the OK to do it."

The teen couple had begun to make plans for after the slaying, Detective Robinson testified. They found a home next to a lake and park in an Erie neighborhood they wanted to buy. Grove, in one day, made four visits to the model home, according to a saleswoman, and Damm had video footage of it on her cell phone that she showed to friends.

The saleswoman at the Cottonwood Vista neighborhood just east of N. 119th Street wondered where such a young couple would get money for a down payment on a $400,000 to $550,000 home, Robinson testified, but he said they had a plan to get the money by selling Linda Damm's home after the homicide.

Boulder County Deputy Coroner John Meyer, who performed Damm's autopsy, also testified at Wednesday's hearing. He said her blood-alcohol level was 0.217. At 0.05, it is illegal to drive a car in Colorado. Meyer said that only 0.04 to 0.06 could be attributed to the decaying process.

Damm and Grove will be in court next to enter pleas Aug. 3. A trial date has not yet been set.

Jared Guy, 18, has pleaded not guilty to being an accessory to the slaying. Police say he helped try to dump Linda Damm's body in an Erie landfill and then bury it in Boulder's Green Mountain Cemetery. His trial is set for Sept. 10, although he is negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors.

Archived comments

Insert, break off.


5/24/2007 10:48:50 AM

Have some posts been deleted? I can't find an entire thread that talks about music that MTV and TV shows Logo promotes has an adverse affect on teens in my opinion. Both alleged murderers were Insane Clown Posse fans and VH1 had just hyped that band on one of their reality TV shows.


5/24/2007 6:30:14 AM

Different article hippy. Lay off the dope.

5/24/2007 7:59:45 AM

I am a New Age Hippie so I do not smoke pot. I believe in healthy living. I can't seem to find the other article though. Oh well.


5/24/2007 8:32:44 AM

Just too funny how she tried to act all sweet and innocent! What a little B****. Her life was so rough - she was getting in trouble by her mother because she wasn't going to school. Yep that is something to kill your mom over! I am sure there were rough times for her because of the drinking, HOWEVER you don't make plans with your boyfriend to kill her. If her life was so bad, she had plenty of family to have called and ask for help. Why didn't it work out for her living with the family member in California? She made her bed and now she needs to lay in it. Maybe she can paint her cell like one of rooms in the house she thought she was going to buy with the money from her mom's home. Not the brightest crayon in the box!


5/24/2007 10:13:36 AM

About post deletions: even for the same article, the thread is wiped clean at the end of the day, restarting it at the stroke of midnight. At least that was my experience on this site...

5/24/2007 12:17:06 PM

jrod, you're right on with the crayon analogy. it definitely applies to linda too. neither one of these two really functioned above the level of an 11 year old child. their reasoning and problem solving skills were similar to that of pre-pubescent kids. they're both basically mentally retarded and harmful to others so it's a wonderful thing that neither is running around loose in society causing problems.

5/24/2007 1:16:09 PM

pop5678eye - what are you talking about? you on the dope too?

Folks, the old article is here:

5/24/2007 2:01:41 PM

from the webmaster:

Posts are not deleted every night. Only flagged posts that break the User Agreement are deleted.


5/24/2007 7:09:38 PM

"his reply was that he was 100 percent sure they would,"

You know, this statement, and the whole part where they discuss the murder tells me that they really are not adults. Kids think that they can get easily away with various crimes, so it is not a barrier to them comitting the crime.

Adults realize that a big part of the reason we don't commit crimes is that it is almost impossible to get away with them.

The fact that they were naive enough to think that they could just burn the body and live in the house forever and no one would ever notice says that they just don't have the mental maturity to be considered as adults.


5/25/2007 1:39:06 PM

I would hope that the reason most adults do not commit "crimes" is because they are able to understand the over-all effects of their actions.

As adults we are (hopefully) able to empathize with others. We understand the greater effects and affects of our actions on the world around us. When thinking ahead, we can visualize not just our own response to an action, but also the response of our friends, family, peers, community, country, etc.

I agree that the way these kids discussed and executed their actions reflects their juvenility, but not because they were wrong about getting caught. The selfishness of their actions is what gives away their age. They were unable to imagine the world outside of themselves.

To frame these children as ruthless killers is a tragic mistake.

We must ask ourselves what we want from these children. Do we want an example for those of us who are not fully able to understand crime and punishment? If so -- lock 'em up and throw away the key/sentence them to death. That'll show them -- that will show us all, right?

Or, do we want healthy members of our community?

The second option is the hard one. It is time and people intensive. It is a labor of love, as I'm guessing that once these kids are mature enough to understand the full scope of what they have done, they will be beyond what the state offers as help.

I still prefer the second.


5/29/2007 12:13:10 PM

You know, hippy, just because they listen to a certain type of music does not mean that they are suddenly driven to kill anyone. Finding a scape goat in music or art is just sick. If you're really a hippy, you'd seriously not have typed that up. What that idiot girl and her friends did was entirely of their own sick design, and trying to pin any sort of blame on any sort of creative outlet is just as bad. Come on now - are you mature or not?


8/31/2007 2:12:24 PM