WHITE PINE, TN (WATE) – Curled up next to a small memorial for an 8-year-old girl who was shot and killed Sunday is a small puppy.
Neighbors and friends set up the memorial on the front porch of McKayla Dyer’s home. It includes a cross, wreath, candle, cross, stuffed toy, balloons, and cards.
The girl’s mother, Latasha Dyer, said their 11-year-old neighbor shot her after he asked McKayla Dyer to show him one of her puppies and she said “no.” The boy has been charged with first degree murder.
The little girls two puppies are being taken care of by a neighbor. “They’ve been running to the porch they know is their home.” explained neighbor Chasity Arwood, saying she’s been trying to keep them occupied.
People who know the families say they feel for both sides. “My heart hurts because a little girl lost her life too young. And the little boy has to go through what he’s going through,” Arwood said.
Multiple neighbors told WATE 6 On Your Side both families have moved out of the neighborhood, at least temporarily.
The visitation for McKayla Dyer is scheduled Wednesday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Cooke-Campbell Mortuary in Maynardville. The burial is Thursday at 2:00 p.m. at Haun Cemetary in Luttrell.
‘Virtually impossible’ to try 11-year-old as adult
McKayla Dyer was shot and killed Saturday at her home in White Pine. An 11-year-old boy that was arrested and charged with first degree murder in her death had his first appearance Monday before a judge at the Jefferson County Justice Center.
After the hearing Monday, Ed Miller, the 4th Judicial District public defender, said the court has ordered his client detained until the hearing. Miller said the hearing is scheduled for October 28, however he anticipates the hearing to be delayed.
According to Defense Attorney Greg Isaacs there have been no cases where an 11-year-old was ever tried as an adult in a homicide case in the State of Tennessee.
“Terrible tragedy, but it would be virtually impossible to transfer and try this young man as an adult,” said Isaacs. “Under 16 years of age there are certain criteria: seriousness of offense, rehabilitation methods used in the past, the delinquency record, but in this case it would be rare.”
Isaacs said if they tried an 11-year-old as an adult there would be an army of psychiatrists and psychologists arguing that a child that young cannot form the required mental intent for first and second degree homicide. He said it is much more likely that he will be detained until he is 19-year-old, the longest a juvenile court can detain a minor.
“It’s not going to be the lawyers, it’s going to be the mental health experts and they’re going to tell the court and petition the court when they feel he is rehabilitated,” said Isaacs. “What they’re going to do is go inside the mind of an 11-year-old, still riding bikes and watching Cartoon Network and find out why he did what he did.”
The parents of the boy also could be charged in the case, according to Isaacs. He said they could be charged with abuse and neglect if firearms were left loaded near where young people could reach the them.