Escape attempt foiled at Fargo juvenile facility; Sergei Carlson moved to Cass County Jail
FARGO - A 16-year-old who pleaded guilty to killing his sister was moved to the Cass County Jail from a juvenile detention center Friday, roughly 12 hours after a guard at the youth facility was attacked during an escape attempt.
The move for Sergei Isaac Carlson was not scheduled and occurred after Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney conferred with prosecutors late Thursday night and early Friday morning "due to some events," Laney said Monday.
A female correction officer at the Juvenile Detention Center was assaulted in the head and upper arm with a piece of wood about 9:50 Thursday night.
It is not uncommon for there to be issues with juveniles being held in the detention center, but Thursday's incident was rare, said sheriff's Sgt. Al Kulesa, the detention center supervisor.
"To that extent, to plot an attempted escape, is extremely unusual," he said.
Because Carlson is younger than 18, officials would not discuss whether he was one of the two suspects in the attack.
The detention center can place residents in lockdown for up to 23 hours a day, but a juvenile charged as an adult who poses a "severe security risk" can be transferred to the county jail, Kulesa said.
An incident such as what happened Thursday could lead to someone being transferred, he said.
Carlson was booked into the Cass County Jail at 10:30 a.m. Friday.
Laney would not give a reason for the move, only saying Carlson is being held at the adult facility pending his Oct. 23 sentencing on murder and sexual deviate act charges he pleaded guilty to Sept. 15.
Laney would not comment when asked why Carlson was not immediately transferred after the guilty plea.
A male juvenile and a female juvenile were listed as suspects in Thursday's incident, but sheriff's Sgt. Mitch Burris would not release their ages Monday. "It'll give away their identity," he said.
No other residents at the 11-bed center were involved in Thursday's escape attempt, which "was hardly successful," Kulesa said.
"It's not like these people even remotely got near an exterior door, to put it in context," he said. "They didn't even make it past the interior doors."
Carlson's father has voiced concern about having the son he adopted as a child from Russia held at the detention center. He declined to comment Monday.
Carlson is in lockdown 23 hours a day. No other inmates are allowed out during the 60 minutes he is allowed out of his cell, Laney said.
State law prohibits Carlson from being moved to the general population. He will have no contact with any adults other than correction officers while at the jail, Laney said.
Carlson has not caused any problems since the transfer, the sheriff said.
As of late Monday, no charges had been filed related to Thursday's incident.
The correctional worker, Diana Johnson, was struck in the head and upper arm two or three times with a wooden trim piece from a bookshelf in the facility. Burris declined to elaborate, saying authorities are still conducting interviews.
Investigators will likely ask prosecutors to file at least some type of assault charge, Burris said.
Carlson faces up to life without parole for the July 2007 Fargo slaying of his sister, Whitney, 16. Carlson, then 15, told police he "strangled her with his hands and placed pillows over her face to muffle her sounds." He also indicated that he engaged in sexual contact with her after she died, court documents state.
East Central Judicial District Court Judge John Irby has previously rejected plea deals calling for Carlson to serve 30 years in prison, saying he was concerned Carlson would not be rehabilitated.
Behavioral issues could affect where Carlson is incarcerated after sentencing. In general, juveniles younger than 18 are held at the Youth Correctional Center in Mandan, N.D., but some who pose "extreme dangers" can be held in adult facilities, said Tim Tausend, public information officer at the center.
Factors such as whether the juvenile could be a victim while incarcerated and the risk level he or she poses to others are considered, he said.
The Youth Correctional Center does not have a perimeter fence around its campus, but its four buildings are secured with locked interior and exterior doors.
A decision about where to place Carlson after sentencing has not yet been made, but, "It's a pretty good guess that he'd be at our most secure building," Tausend said.