Tess Damm
Tess Damm

State officials want to move Lafayette teen murderer Tess Damm from a youth detention center to an adult prison in part because they say she plotted to strangle a guard with a shoelace in an unsuccessful escape plan late last year.

Boulder County prosecutors object to the transfer request from the Colorado Attorney General's Office because they fear it would effectively shorten the amount of time Damm will serve for her role in helping her then-17-year-old boyfriend murder her mother and stuff her body into a car trunk in February 2007.

A full hearing on the transfer request was scheduled for May 10.

Damm, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the gruesome homicide, was sentenced in May 2008 to 23 years in prison -- starting out with five years in the Department of Youth Corrections.

She was 15 at the time of her mother's murder. She is now 18.

Her boyfriend, Bryan Grove, was sentenced to 40 years for wielding the knife that killed Linda Damm.

Tess Damm appeared in court Monday dressed in a red jail suit with her hands shackled to her waist. Her trademark long blond hair hung past her shoulders.

Assistant Attorney General Alicia Calderon told Boulder District Judge James Klein at the hearing that the programs at the Betty Marler Youth Services Center in Denver, where Damm is now confined, are no longer benefiting her. The Attorney General's Office represents the Colorado Department of Youth Services.

"Tess is not able to do what everyone else is able to do," Calderon said.

No mention was made of Damm's alleged escape plan during the hearing, but in a petition for transfer filed by the Colorado Attorney General's Office, the Dec. 30 plot was spelled out.

"The plan involved assaulting overnight staff by strangling him/her with a shoelace and locking him/her in a room after obtaining the staff member's keys," the motion reads.

The plan was discovered before it was executed.

Boulder County prosecutor Karen Peters said allowing Damm to serve a diminished sentence would violate the "spirit" of the plea agreement they worked out with her. Under that arrangement, Damm wouldn't be transferred to an adult prison until she turns 21.

Peters said moving Damm to an adult facility this early means she would be credited for good and earned time that she isn't credited for in the juvenile facility, where inmates serve on a day-for-day basis.

She also questioned why, if the alleged escape attempt was serious enough to merit a transfer request, it wasn't serious enough for the state to file charges against Damm.

Peters said members of Damm's family also oppose the transfer, saying Damm needs continued treatment in the youth facility and is not ready to go into the adult system.

There were two other accomplices in the case. Jared Smith, then 16, was sentenced to two years in juvenile prison for accessory, and Jared Guy, then 18, was given a work-release sentence after pleading guilty to felony tampering.