Emotional Sergei Carlson apologizes
FARGO Sergei Isaac Carlson's emotional development was broken from the start. His birth mother neglected and abused him, cutting him so badly he will forever have scars on his torso. He lived through that experience and then landed in a Russian o...
Sergei Isaac Carlson's emotional development was broken from the start.
His birth mother neglected and abused him, cutting him so badly he will forever have scars on his torso.
He lived through that experience and then landed in a Russian orphanage where he was physically, sexually and emotionally tortured and abused until a Fargo family adopted him at age 7.
Despite being rescued by the Carlsons, according to Carlson's lawyer, the psychological damage already was done and would contribute to pain and suffering caused by Carlson, who killed his own sister.
The 16-year-old boy apologized to his family Thursday as he was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for killing his then-16-year-old sister, Whitney, last summer.
"I just hope that they forgive me because I didn't want any of this to happen," an emotional Carlson said during the Cass County District Court hearing.
The apology came after his older sister, Amanda Carlson, said in a victim impact statement that she will always love her brother, but he has hurt those who loved him the most.
"The brother that I once knew is no longer here," she said, never referring to Sergei by name.
Carlson's defense attorney Mark Beauchene asked for leniency for the boy who was 15 when he snuck into his sister's south Fargo bedroom and strangled her and muffled her face with pillows before sexually assaulting her.
Beauchene recommended a 30-year sentence, saying Carlson's "insurmountable demons" took over and led to the violent outburst against the sister with whom he previously had no conflicts.
Carlson's sentence means the earliest he would be eligible for parole is in his early 60s.
Carlson still may not even understand the gravity of his actions, Beauchene said.
"It's not that he doesn't want to, but perhaps he can't," Beauchene said. "Perhaps this broken piece of him just can't go there yet."
The children's father agreed, saying he doesn't believe Sergei, whom the Carlson family calls "Isaac," even recognizes how horrible his actions were.
"That's part of the brokenness of who Isaac is," said the Rev. Scott Carlson.
Beauchene said Sergei had problems forming relationships and attaching to people, including peers. He underwent counseling for the issues, but did not make the recommended progress, instead engaging heavily into video pornography and violent video games.
Beauchene said he believes his client can be rehabilitated - which District Court Judge John Irby raised as a concern when he rejected previous plea agreements calling for Carlson to serve 30 years in prison.
Carlson entered an open guilty plea to murder and deviate sexual act charges Sept. 15 - the day the Sun Prairie, Wis., teen was set to face trial on the charges.
Significant counseling could give Carlson the help he needs, but "it's kind of too late under the circumstances," Beauchene said. "He's a boy who hasn't been able to deal with these issues."
Carlson's father said psychologists have assured the family that despite his son's psychopathic traits they would have never expected him to take the actions he did.
The conversations have provided them some comfort as the Carlsons have been told their parenting "held those demons at bay" for a long time, his father said.
Assistant Cass County State's Attorney Tracy Peters said Carlson's parents plan to maintain a relationship with him.
"They've both expressed their desire to still be parents to him, and I expect that in their own way and in their own time they will do that," Peters said.
Scott Carlson has maintained contact with his son since he brought him to police for questioning and then he confessed.
"Even now, I want him to have anything good that can be offered by the correctional system," his father said. "Now, will I be surprised if he ends up screwing up somewhere along the way and falling short? No.
"At least now he's in a spot where he will be safe and other people will be safe."
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.