Half Brother Appears in Court in Death of 11-Year-Old Terry Smith

A later hearing will determine if Skylor Atilano, 16, is tried as a juvenile or an adult

The 16-year-old half brother of a boy who went missing in semirural Menifee, Calif., will remain jailed after appearing in juvenile court Monday on a murder charge.

Skylor Atilano, 16, attended his first court appearance -- at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta -- on Monday afternoon, wearing a yellow jail jumpsuit.

The Riverside County District Attorney's Office charged Atilano on Friday with the murder of his half brother, 11-year-old Terry Smith Jr., who was the subject of a four-day search effort amid blistering heat.

At the Monday court appearance, Atilano's detention hearing was postponed till Sept. 17 at the request of Atilano's public defender. A judge ordered Atilano, who did not speak in court, to remain jailed.

Hundreds of search volunteers were devastated when a body was found in a shallow grave early Wednesday behind the home where both boys lived with their mother and her partner.

TERRY SMITH CASE: Complete Coverage | Timeline | Map | Images

The body -- found by an Orange County woman who describes herself as an "intuitive" -- matched the description of Terry, Capt. John Hill, Menifee’s acting police chief said last week.

The identity of the body will not be confirmed for another two to six weeks, Riverside County Coroner's Bureau Sgt. Anthony Townsend said Monday afternoon.

"DNA is our only viable option," Townsend said, adding that the state clearinghouse would need to process the genetic material from the body.

The DA's news release on July 12 about the pending charge against Atilano had said the "body of Terry Smith Jr. was found" on Smith family property.

Terry had been reported missing Sunday, July 7, by his mother Shawna Smith, who said the boy had autism, a diagnosis disputed by his father in West Virginia.

Authorities announced a body was found at the home on Wednesday, July 10, bringing an end to the massive search.

The DA’s Office said it would requesting that the judge decide at the Sept. 17 hearing whether the case against Atilano should be handled in juvenile court or in adult court.

More Southern California Stories:

Contact Us