Hearing postponed for teen accused of killing younger brother

MURRIETA, Calif. -

With his attorney seeking more time to review the case, a hearing was postponed today for a teenager accused of killing his 11-year-old half-brother and burying him in the backyard of their Menifee home.

Skylor Atilano, 16, is accused in the July 6 murder of Terry Smith Jr.

A juvenile detention hearing -- the objective of which is to determine whether a minor facing criminal charges should be held in jail or released to the custody of his parents -- is now scheduled to be held Oct. 23.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Freer granted the postponement at the request of Deputy Public Defender Lana Kreidie, who is representing the teen.

The District Attorney's Office intends to request that the defendant, who is being held at Southwest Juvenile Hall, be tried as an adult.

He was arrested on July 10 after Terry's remains were located behind his family's single-story home in the 33000 block of Helen Lane.

``This was a domestic issue within that residence,'' sheriff's Capt. John Hill said earlier. ``There was no stranger in the city of Menifee who caused this to happen.''

According to investigators, the defendant initially said he had last seen Terry playing video games the night the youngster went missing. But the 16-year-old later changed his story, indicating he had seen his sibling walking behind him as he headed to a nearby store, whereupon he directed Terry to go back home.

The child was reported to be autistic. However, his father, Terry Smith Sr., flatly denied the claim, suggesting that his ex-wife fabricated the disability to obtain state aid.

Terry Jr. had lived with his father in West Virginia until 2009, when the elder Smith suffered a breakdown in his health and agreed to let Terry come to California to live with his mother and half-brother and sister.

Terry's death was an emotional blow to the roughly 1,000 volunteers who took part in scouring a 55-square-mile area, looking for the boy. A public memorial service was held on July 25 to remember Terry and recognize the efforts of those who tried to find him.

Volunteers stumbled upon a shallow grave containing partially exposed human remains about 75 feet behind the Smith home in the predawn hours of July 10 and immediately notified deputies. Hill acknowledged that ``multiple searches of the property'' had taken place previously without turning up any clues.

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