Judge Rules to Keep Teen Suspected of Killing Brother in Custody

Outside the courthouse Monday in Murrieta was a small group of Skylor’s friends who came out to show their support for him. They said they attended high school with the Menifee teen.

Skylor Atilano is ushered into a courtroom at Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta, July 15, 2013. (Photo credit: Maggie Avants)
Skylor Atilano is ushered into a courtroom at Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta, July 15, 2013. (Photo credit: Maggie Avants)

This post was originally published at 3:48 p.m. and updated at 5:26 p.m.

The half-brother of 11-year-old Terry Dewayne Smith Jr. of Menifee, now believed to be dead, will remain in custody at least until Sept. 17, a Murrieta judge ruled Monday.

Skylor Atilano, 16, who the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office has filed a murder charge against in the case, appeared in court Monday afternoon at Southwest Detention Center for a detention hearing, meant to determine whether the boy should stay in custody.

On Monday, the mother of the two boys looked on as Skylor was ushered into the courtroom by bailiffs and seated next to his public defender.

At the request of Skylor’s public defense team, the hearing was postponed until Sept. 17.

However Riverside Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Freer made an interim ruling—which Skylor agreed to—that in the meantime the teen would remain in custody at the nearby juvenile detention center until the Sept. 17 hearing.

The ruling was “for the juvenile’s safety as well as the safety of the community,” said John Hall, spokesman for the DA’s office, noting that the judge’s decision also had to do with a previous offense or offense for which Skylor was on probation. Hall declined to elaborate on the previous charge or charges.

Also on Monday, the probation department asked for a psychological evaluation of the boy.

The defense objected, and Judge Freer struck down that motion.

The probation department will need to request that evaluation again when the hearing takes place Sept. 17, Hall explained.

Additionally, a decision on whether Skylor will be tried as an adult or juvenile has yet to be made.

“We have requested this hearing—called a 707 hearing—so the judge will determine whether this case will stay in the juvenile court or be tried in regular court,” Hall told reporters who gathered outside the courthouse following Monday’s hearing.

Hall said that decision will most likely not be made until after the Sept. 17 hearing.

“We feel based on the evidence we have at this point in this case it would just be better for the judge to make the decision in this case,” Hall said.

Outside the courthouse Monday was a small group of Skylor’s friends who said they came to show their support for him.

Miguel Diaz, 15, said he is a good friend of Skylor’s who attended school with him at Paloma Valley High School in Menifee.

Although Miguel said he had never met Terry, he helped Skylor search for him.

“I believe that the circumstances here don’t add up,” Miguel said. “From what I believe from knowing Skylor, this just doesn’t add up. I wouldn’t just come out here based off a hunch, it is a really strong feeling.

“There was no way he was capable of doing this by himself,” Miguel said. “It takes a certain type of person to hide a body for four days...”

Another friend of Skylor’s, Kira Nichols, 16, said seeing Skylor in court was heartbreaking for her.

“He is an amazing person,” Kira said, adding that Skylor always had a smile on his face. She has known him since middle school, she said.

“There is no way he could do this just by himself...it was not him, it couldn’t have been just him,” Kira said.

Sheriff’s officials said all members of the household were taken in for questioning the day the remains were discovered by a citizen volunteer; as a result of those interrogations, Skylor was arrested on suspicion of murder.

According to investigators, Skylor initially said he had last seen Terry Saturday evening, July 6, playing video games at the Helen Lane home in Menifee where the two boys lived with their mother, her partner and a sister.

But the 16-year-old later changed his story, according to investigators, indicating he had seen his sibling walking behind him as he headed to a nearby store Saturday night, whereupon he directed Terry to go back home.

Roughly 1,000 volunteers took part in scouring an 81-square-mile, multi-city area, looking for the victim.

Early on July 10, investigators recovered what were determined to be partially-exposed human remains fitting Terry’s description from a shallow grave on the semi-rural Helen Lane property, just steps from the Menifee Market where volunteer searchers had manned a makeshift command post.

Editor’s Note: The outcome of these allegations, as well as the facts, may change as the case progresses through the legal system. Not all details of each investigation are made public. All items are alleged to have occurred. There should be no assumption of guilt.

More Coverage on the Terry Smith Story:

California Girl July 15, 2013 at 07:10 PM
I have watched about this from day one, and it is sad that parents can't give their children a normal home life, and violence has to be in their home! Don't know them personally, but I hope the truth comes out on everything, and if he did do it than I hope that he gets the max, because he is almost an adult he knows right from wrong, but I blame the parents!! It is just sad!!! R.I.P TERRY "JUJU" SMITH
Steve Newman July 15, 2013 at 07:21 PM
Looks like Skylar got an attorney that told him to remove all the piercings and tackle box jewelry so he would look "normal"
Cathy Neumann-Bearse July 15, 2013 at 07:34 PM
OK so .. I was there and Maggie does an awesome job but .. when Skylar got up to leave he gave his Mother the death stare that NO Mom would ever want to have . So many of his friends say this just doesn't "add" up. Makes you wonder but I refuse to speculate instead I will pray!
Su Dyer Shea July 15, 2013 at 09:00 PM
@Steve. I believe that is something they make them do in JH, jail etc. Just wondering if you could define "normal". Do you have children? Piercings and tattoos are the "thing" these days amongst teens and young adults. Just like in my day it was double pierced ears and low rider bell bottom jeans. I wish we could all remember that he is INNOCENT until proven guilty! Why is it that in his case this seems to be backwards. Dont get me wrong, IF he did have something to do with Terrys death than so be it, his punishment will come, along with the guilt he will have to live with the rest of his life. IF he wasnt involved then there is someone else, that will live with the guilt for the rest of their lives. In time the TRUTH will be revealed. Meanwhile lets be American and presume his innocence until he can be proved otherwise.
California Girl July 15, 2013 at 09:39 PM
I will not presume his innocence when he lied several times to the cops, if he was not guilty than why lie, if he was scared, why be scared if you did not do anything wrong, things just don't add up at all... He is guilty in my books tell I am proven wrong, I hope I am proven wrong, I would hate to see a young adult lose the rest of his life sitting behind bars for something that he did not do, but if he did it than I hope he gets the punishment that he deserves!!! Don't lie if you did not do something wrong
Karen July 16, 2013 at 05:30 AM
FYI...all jewelry, piercings, etc have to be removed and placed in their personal belongings when they are booked in jail/ juvenile hall. The attorney has nothing to do with it.
SA July 16, 2013 at 11:57 AM
A kid that looked like “Pinhead” is hardly an issue … the fact that an innocent life was taken is… I am sure there will be more that unfolds to this story and if the boy’s stepfather’s story holds up, there will be heads on a stick …
Steve Newman July 16, 2013 at 12:42 PM
Su Dyer Shea- you are correct about the piercings-and I do have children but they are not murderers. And be American and presume his innocence- just like was done with George Zimmerman- right?
Steve Newman July 16, 2013 at 12:43 PM
Karen-lighten up-it was in jest
liss July 16, 2013 at 02:59 PM
I saw skylor's b4 photo with all the piercings , Someone who looks like that is starving for attention from there parents ,seeing there is an dad missing and a half brother who must get alot of moms attention (terry) Mom should of see these signs and got the family some help .And dad of terry shouldnt of waited to fly him out I would of done it asap ,,,,Just my thoughts
California Girl July 16, 2013 at 03:15 PM
We all don't know what was going on in that home, and it is just sad how things turned out when the mom could of gotten the family some help!
liss July 16, 2013 at 03:20 PM
@california Girl 100% agree I still pray thats not Terry in the backyard
stephanie garcia July 16, 2013 at 04:06 PM
how can they arrest him , they have no proof he did it no confession no dna or any witnesses
liss July 16, 2013 at 04:47 PM
They must have something on him...
Jennee Nocciolo July 16, 2013 at 05:37 PM
I think the mother should be held in custody as well until they have all details. A mother is responsible for the children in her home. Something does not add up. What this boy did is wrong beyond anything! However if you listen to the fathers interviews and you have read what the boy was posting the week before on FB, you would know the child was hurting and had some kind of issue. I don't believe for one second any of us know what was REALLY going on in that home. A child's minds can only handle so much. I feel so sad for both these young boys.
rubberband July 16, 2013 at 06:03 PM
with this sort of very sad and distressing type of story emotions run understandably high...it's hard to remember to wait for facts and evidence, and more of a story to unfold. The hard thing for many is the idea that there might have been some way this might have been predicted and possibly prevented. It has happened. It is real. Talking and listening to your kids and REALLY knowing them is a good start. Sometimes parents get so busy and the kids seem "fine" so we don't always see some signs of distress until we are faced with extremes. I agree with one point Jennee made above...there won't anyone who will truly know what occurred except for the people who were there...AND police cannot hold anyone without a reason that the court recognizes to do so.
California Girl July 17, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Well it looks like he is in custody, and they would not just old someone in custody for something if they did not evidence or if someone did not do something, so far as well know that cops do have some sort of evidence and they are not releasing it yet. And like I stated above he lied to the cops several times, if you did not do it and if you have nothing to lie about than why lie!!! His facebook post were insane on what he wrote, there is something that went on in that home, and poor Terry was the one that had his life ended! And I do agree they should have mom in custody because she was the one who was responsible for her kids actions, and she knew Skylor has problems, he was on probation before and he violated his probation. I hope the body that was found was not Terry's but cops and everyone called off the search for a reason. All we can do is pray and hope the truth will come out during the trail.
California Girl July 17, 2013 at 03:59 PM
rubberband July 18, 2013 at 01:36 PM
My comment was unclear. To clarify: many seem to want the mother to be brought into custody and held. I understand the very emotional content here, however, without clear motive or evidence of some kind, thinking she is a bad parent is not enough to hold her on. If in time it is found she was not caring properly for her children (within in the view of the laws pertaining to such) she cannot be held. In time perhaps more will come to light. Having a child who died (natural causes) I can without a doubt say it is the most difficult thing I have ever gone through. I hope Terry went quickly and did not suffer for a long time. It is a horrible unthinkable tragic thing, regardless of ow it occurred.


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