WHITE PINE (WATE) – The family of an 11-year-old Jefferson County boy charged with first degree murder is speaking out for the first time. The victim, 8-year-old Makayla Dyer was shot and killed outside her White Pine home last month, and shortly after her next door neighbor was arrested. Now his great-grandparents are saying the sheriff and the district attorney have the wrong kid.
Dianna and Jack Houchins gave WATE 6 On Your Side transcripts detailing the suspect’s hearings. However, since the transcripts were from closed juvenile court hearings involving several children, we’ve decided not to disclose any part of the transcripts, or any of the names of the kids who were there when Makayla was killed, including the boy charged with first degree murder who says he didn’t do it.
His great-grandparents said he told them another child was there playing with Dyer, and that’s who accidentally shot and killed 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 Houchins. She said he was the one to go get the shotgun out of his parent’s closet, but he handed to the other child through the window. “He did not know the gun was loaded when he showed it to his friend.”
She said that’s when the other child pointed it at Makayla and accidentally shot her.
“We believe that when the autopsy is revealed, it will show that the victim was shot from the ground, at close range,” said Houchins.
Since the shooting, the 11-year-old suspect has been held in the Knox County Juvenile Detention Center where the superintendent says the boy is the youngest they’ve seen facing first degree murder charges in at least 40 years.
A judge initially set the boy’s bond at $500,000, but his great grandparents said when they found the money to pay, the judge changed his mind.
“He said, and I quote, “This kid is not going home on my watch.”
The Houchins said he’s now being held without bond while he waits for a trial for the death of a little girl he says wasn’t his fault.
“What are they going to make him sit in there for a year?” asked Houchins. “There is no other evidence, that’s why we came forward.”
WATE 6 On Your Side also reached out to the Jefferson County Sheriff and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office and were told neither agency could comment because the investigation is ongoing.