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Brittany Lawonn, Published July 28 2007

Brother may be tried as an adult

Prosecutors are seeking to charge a 15-year-old boy as an adult in the death of his 16-year-old Fargo sister, killed in her home earlier this month.

Sergei Isaac Carlson will appear for a 1 p.m. hearing Monday to determine whether he should face charges as an adult in the death of Whitney Carlson.

He was arrested two days after their mother found the girl unconscious and not breathing.

A news release issued Friday by the Cass County State’s Attorney said Carlson, who is identified by his initials, faces charges in juvenile court, but prosecutors have filed a motion to move the case to adult court.

Unlike other juvenile proceedings, Monday’s motion hearing is open to the public.

Carlson’s family members will attend the hearing, and Mark Bourdon, a family spokesman and relative, will also make a statement Monday, he said Friday.

Bourdon has previously said there were no warning signs for what happened between the siblings, details of which are still unknown.

He described the two as sharing a “very typical brother-sister relationship.”

Fargo police arrested Sergei Carlson on July 16 after autopsy results deemed his 16-year-old sister’s death a homicide caused by asphyxiation.

Fargo police Chief Keith Ternes has said authorities re-interviewed the boy most of July 16, and “after speaking to the kid, we felt like we had enough to place him in custody. As far as motive, I don’t know.”

Whitney Carlson’s mother discovered her about 8:06 a.m. July 14 in their home at 1424 11th St. S.

Bourdon, the Carlsons’ uncle, said she had recently returned to Fargo after visiting her biological father, the Rev. Scott Carlson, in Sun Prairie, Wis., where Sergei Carlson also lived. Her brother “had been here for a little while as well” when she was killed, Bourdon said.

Sergei Carlson, who joined the family when he was 7 after being adopted from Russia, moved with his father to Wisconsin in 2002 when Carlson received a calling to work there as a pastor. He now works at Sun Prairie United Methodist Church, Bourdon said.

Before that, Carlson was a pastor at Fargo’s First United Methodist Church from 2000 to 2002, leaving for Wisconsin that summer, said Laura Owen, associate director of communications for the Dakotas Conference of United Methodist Church.

Bourdon said Sergei Carlson did not resent being apart from his three sisters, saying plans were put into place when the move was made “so that the kids could interact with each other and stay connected.”

The siblings spent holidays and summers together, alternating the periods with each parent.

Juveniles older than 14 charged with serious crimes, including murder, begin the judicial process in juvenile court before there is a transfer hearing to determine if the individual should be charged as an adult.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Brittany Lawonn at (701) 241-5541