MURRIETA (CBSLA.com) — The half-brother of an 11-year-old boy who was found buried in the family’s Riverside County backyard made his first in court appearance Monday afternoon for a detention hearing.
Skylor Atilano, 16, was charged with murder Friday in the death of his half-brother, Terry Smith.
Atilano’s family, including his mother, were present in Riverside County court as a judge ordered the hearing to be postponed until September.
An interim finding by the judge will keep the teen detained until the next hearing. The judge said he made the decision based on Atilano’s history of violent outbursts.
“That was based on the safety of the public as well as the safety of the juvenile himself,” said John Hall of the Riverside County District Attorney’s office.
But outside the justice center, supporters of Atilano said they do not believe the accusations.
“Yes, I believe that the circumstances don’t add up,” said classmate Miguel Diaz. “I wouldn’t just come out here based on a hunch. It’s a really strong feeling.”
“I just want everyone out there to know this: it was not him,” said longtime friend Kira Nichols. “And it couldn’t have been just him if it was.”
Smith’s mother reported the boy missing on the morning of July 7 after Atilano said he last saw his brother the night before. A four-day search ensued, covering 16 square miles and involving numerous law enforcement agencies and hundreds of volunteers.
Investigators uncovered Smith’s body around noon Wednesday in a shallow grave approximately 75 feet from his family’s Menifee home in the 33000 block of Helen Lane. An autopsy to determine the cause of death is expected to take place Monday.
“It takes a certain kind of person to hide a body for four days,” said classmate Diaz. “To lie to law enforcement for so long. And that’s not Skylor.”
Atilano was arrested Wednesday evening and is being held at the Southwest Justice Center.
Earlier on Monday, Riverside County’s District Attorney said he will request a second hearing to discuss Atilano being tried as an adult, according to KNX1070’s Mike Landa.
If charged as an adult and convicted, Atilano could face life in prison.
If tried and convicted in juvenile court, he could be jailed until he turns 23.
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