An 11-year-old boy in Jefferson County, Tennessee, has been found guilty of first-degree of murder for shooting dead MaKayla Dyer, an 8-year-old girl who refused to let him play with her puppy. The boy will spend the next eight years in juvenile prison until he turns 19, according to the court document.
On the evening of October 3, 2015, MaKayla and her sister were talking to the boy from outside the mobile home the boy was staying, located in rural White Pine. The court document, dated February 2, states that the adults were inside the home watching TV in a separate room.
The boy asked MaKayla if she would let him play with her puppy. When she said no, the boy disappeared from the window for a few minutes and came back with a 12-gauge BB gun and a shotgun he had found in the closet.
He told the girl he had guns, which made the victim laugh in disbelief. He pointed the shotgun down at MaKayla and hit her right above her heart. She died three weeks after her eighth birthday.
The shotgun the boy used was legally owned by his father. The boy’s grandmother said she believed the boy did not know the gun was loaded when he showed it to his friends. She told WATE that the autopsy would show that someone who was at ground level pulled the trigger.
However, the court documents reads that the shot came from the exact position where the boy was standing from inside the window, as it hit MaKayla “at a downward trajectory”. Besides, the boy “rendered no aid to the victim”. The document concluded that he is “guilty, beyond reasonable doubt, of the unlawful, intentional, and premeditated murder of MaKayla Dyer”.
In the days following the shooting, the victim’s mother, Latasha Dyer, said the little boy was often bullying her daughter when her family first moved to White Pine. Latasha added she even had to go to the principal about him and he stopped bullying the girl for some time. No one would have imagined that he would end up doing that terrible crime.
The judge realized that the boy had been trained in firearm safety and used to go hunting with his father and grandfather. Officials are still discussing where he should be held. Rob Johnson, a spokesman for Tennessee’s department of children services, said the case required an intensive assessment as they evaluate the best placement for the boy.