11-year old Benjamin Tiller of Tennessee was found guilty last Monday of first-degree murder for killing his 8-year-old neighbor during an argument over her puppy. Tiller will spend the rest of his childhood locked up for the October death of MaKayla Dyer. Police said the fifth-grade boy used his dad’s shotgun to kill the girl, and a juvenile court judge sentenced him to state custody until he turns 19.
“A child who commits first-degree murder cannot be willy-nilly turned loose into society,” Jefferson County Juvenile Court judge Dennis “Will” Roach II wrote, WATV reports
Benjamin frequently hunted with his father, and was trained in firearm safety, but he wasn’t properly schooled on firearm responsibility. The boy has five siblings — three brothers and two sisters — who have been placed with relatives and the state.
TN 11 year old found guilty of first degree murder of 8 year old – Benjamin Nicolas Tiller was placed into… https://t.co/xL8JQNmPOK
— True Blue Warriors (@TruBluWarriors) February 6, 2016
Little MaKayla lived in the same mobile home park with Tiller, and both attended White Pine Elementary School. According to the NY Daily News, the third-grade girl, her 11-year-old sister and their 11-year-old female friend were playing outside on October 3, as Benjamin watched them from his bedroom window. When he asked the girls to get their puppies and they refused, he retrieved his 12-gauge shotgun and a BB gun and taunted the girls from his window.
When MaKayla laughed at him for trying to scare them with what she thought were toy guns, the boy “then made certain the gun was loaded, cocked the hammer on the gun and shot the victim just above the heart at a downward trajectory,” the judge wrote, adding that MaKayla fell backward, “quickly lost consciousness, and was later confirmed dead.”
MaKayla’s mother “knelt on the ground and picked her child up, placing her child in her arms as she passed away,” the courts docs reveal. She told reporters that her daughter had long been bullied by the young killer.
“When we first moved to White Pine, the little boy was bullying MaKayla,” Latasha Dyer said in October. “He was making fun of her, calling her names, just being mean to her. I had to go the principal about him and he quit for a while, and then all of a sudden yesterday he shot her.”
10k children r victims of gun violence every yr in US: ‘MaKayla Dyer’s shooting still shocks town: ‘RIP sweet baby’ http://t.co/1D6j49QFPu
— Andrew Feinstein (@andrewfeinstein) October 12, 2015
Tiller’s great-grandparents, Dianna and Jack Houchins, seem to be in denial about the tragedy, telling WATE that they don’t believe their great-grandson pulled the trigger. They are convinced another child on the scene pointed the gun at Dyer and accidentally shot her.
“He does not understand why these friends of his do not come forward and tell the truth about what happened that day,” said Dianna. “He did not know the gun was loaded when he showed it to his friend.”
Dianna believes this is when the other child pointed the gun at MaKayla and pulled the trigger. “We believe that when the autopsy is revealed, it will show that the victim was shot from the ground, at close range,” she said.
The court docs detail how after the shooting, Benjamin tossed both guns out the window to another child who picked up the gun, attempted to hand it back to Benjamin and then set it down on the ground. Tiller then laughed at the girls as MaKayla lay dying.
The judge wrote that “Mr. Tiller is in desperate need of help, and our society has a great need for Mr. Tiller to receive it.”
Benjamin Tiller’s family said they plan to appeal the judge’s decision.
— Mona Nair (@monanair) October 5, 2015
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