What Should Society Do With An 11-Year-Old Murderer?


*I know, that’s one helluva question in the headline. I am flabberghasted even as I ask it. But it comes to mind as I learn about the case of an 11-year-old boy who was talking with three girls through the window of his Tennessee mobile home.

Included in this assemblage, which took place on October 3, was 8-year old McKayla Dyer and her 11-year-old sister. They were having a conversation with the boy, who is said to have asked the girls to go and get their puppies.

And they declined.

According to documents, the boy — who was inside of his mobile home, walked away. But when he returned he had two guns: one a BB gun, and the other, a 12-gauge shotgun.

He “then announced to the girls that he had guns,” according to court documents. “The victim then laughed at [the boy], and stated that she believed they were not real.

“[The boy] then made certain the gun was loaded, cocked the hammer of the gun, and shot the victim just above the heart at a downward trajectory, from a distance of 3-5 feet from inside his window.”

McKayla fell backward and was later pronounced dead.

Girls memorial
Memorial for McKayla

Of course, with this being a child of eleven, we allow our hearts to speak first: It says, but he didn’t know. What good is it going to do to lock him away. We should rehabilitate him instead.

But we can’t ignore that this boy had the wherewithal to “Make certain the gun was loaded and cock the hammer.”

Sounds like this child knew what he was doing. I mean, its not like he used the BB gun instead.

So now, months later, the boy has indeed been found guilty of first-degree murder. And according to the Associated Press, he will remain in the custody of the state until he reaches the age of 19.

“The State of Tennessee should utilize all reasonable resources to determine why [the boy], an 11 year-old child, chose to kill an 8-year-old child, and to treat and rehabilitate him so that this will not happen again,” a juvenile court order states. “A child who commits first-degree murder cannot be willy-nilly turned loose into society.”

Of course people are up in arms about the decision.

The order also states that the boy is “in desperate need of help, and our society has a great need for [him] to receive it.”

One of the boy’s relatives told WATE that the family is expected to appeal.

It turns out the boy had actually been trained in firearms “safety.” Which probably means he was also trained in using a firearm.

This is a difficult one, people. But it screams a greater need for gun control as the end result is still a life lost. And we can’t ignore this boy’s actions prior to the fatal shot.

Empathy aside. How far can we allow the “age factor” to go in justifying how children using guns should be treated? Is this any less of a crime just because it was committed by a child?

Your thoughts…please.

2 thoughts on “What Should Society Do With An 11-Year-Old Murderer?”

  1. This is what happens when you do not store your guns properly and you let your children play with it. Kids should have a healthy fear of touching guns. It does not matter if they are trained in gun safety, these are kids for god’s sake.

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