February 28, 2018 01:50 PM


Last week, lawyers for a 15-year-old Colorado boy accused of fatally stabbing a 20-year-old woman alluded to a possible defense during a pretrial hearing in the case: that the adverse effects of an acne-treatment drug might have driven the teen’s alleged violent behavior.

The Longmont Times-Call was in the courtroom in Boulder on Friday when prosecutors objected to several defense witnesses, including Dr. Doug Bremner, who has conducted extensive research on the relationship between depression and isotretinoin — better known by its brand name, Accutane.

Accutane is prescribed to treat acne. The drug has been cited in a number of criminal cases with experts saying the medication can sometimes lead to erratic and violent behavior, which the manufacturer denies based on “many years of scientific research,” according to a statement from the manufacturer to PEOPLE.

According to the Times-Call, the teen suspect — who PEOPLE is not naming because he has not been charged as an adult — faces 11 criminal counts including first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Makayla Grote on Nov. 18, 2017.

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Grote was race car driver, the paper reports.

At a transfer hearing set for next week, prosecutors will be making a case for why the case should proceed to trial, and why they believe the suspect should be tried as an adult.


The Times-Call reports defense attorneys Steve Jacobson and Mike Rafik never specifically said their client used Accutane, but confirmed Bremner would testify about how the drug could possibly cause aggressive or violent behavior in a person who had never before exhibited those types of behaviors.

But the judge sided with the prosecution, and barred Bremner from taking the witness stand next week.

The killing occurred in Grote’s apartment in Longmont.

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According to the Times-Call, investigators allege the suspect went to the apartment to kill Grote’s sister, whose name appeared on a so-called “death list” police allegedly recovered from the teen’s home.

The younger sister was showering as Grote was being killed, and allegedly was able to hide from the suspect in a locked room, the paper reports.

The suspect has entered a not guilty plea to the charges, which also include attempted first-degree murder for allegedly going after Grote’s younger sister and at least two other people named on the alleged list.

The suspect’s lawyers did not respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.

Roche, the company that made Accutane, said in a statement to PEOPLE:

“Roche was saddened to hear of the loss of Makayla Grote and our deepest sympathies go out to her family and friends. Although Roche no longer manufactures or distributes Accutane in the United States, we take any and all information about our current or past products seriously.”

“Based on many years of scientific research no cause-and-effect relationship between Accutane and psychiatric events or aggressive behaviors has been established.”

“The courts in New Jersey have previously excluded the testimony of Dr. Bremner, the defense expert in Colorado, because it was unscientific and unreliable.”

A GoFundMe campaign has been established to fund a memorial for Grote.

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