Dr Phil: Teen Admits To Killing Brother
We are used to hearing shocking headlines about family drama, and one such tragedy was the subject of a Dr Phil episode: “A Teen Admits To Killing His 11-Year-Old Brother: Who Is Really To Blame?” It turned out that there may be a lot more to this story than first met the eye. The incident in question occurred in 2013, when 11-year-old Juju was discovered dead in a shallow grave not far from home.
In the aftermath, his 16-year-old half-brother Skylor took responsibility for murdering Juju. However, Shawna, the children’s mother, believes the death was an accident. Meanwhile, her ex-husband is pointing the finger at her, suggesting that she was involved in covering up what really happened. Now he is suing her for gross negligence. Could Dr Phil help get to the bottom of this sad family affair?
Dr Phil: Autistic Child Missing
Juju had Autism and was the subject of an extensive police search when he was determined to be missing. Skylor was the last person to see Juju alive. Someone called 911 during the search, having discovered the boy’s body. Since that time, Skylor has confessed to the murder and is serving a voluntary manslaughter sentence.
Shawna denies her ex’s accusations that she knew anything about what happened to Juju. She left him in his half-brother’s care when she went out for the evening, and she did not learn until the next morning that Juju was missing. According to Shawna, Skylor had a good track record as a babysitter in the past.
Dr Phil: Gross Negligence
As the search dragged on for days, thousands of volunteers joined in. Shawna said she never suspected that Skylor could have had anything to do with the horrific crime. Later, Skylor accepted a plea deal and admitted responsibility for the crime.
Since that time, Juju’s father Terry has come after her, and she thinks this is retribution regarding their bitter divorce. Dr Phil brought the parents face to face on his stage and gave Juju a chance to speak out about the claims against her. Dr Phil explained that “gross negligence” would mean that Shawna knew what would happen if she left the boys alone, but she chose to go out anyway. (That’s what Terry would have to prove to win his lawsuit, anyway.)
Dr Phil: Parent Vs Parent
“If I saw the signs, Skylor would not have been left in charge of Juju,” she said. “I’m sorry our son died. That hurts me every day of my life. My heart hurts every day.” Shawna encouraged her ex to remember the childlike wonder with with Juju approached the world.
Robert Carichoff, Terry’s attorney, was in the audience to carefully choose his legal wording. “I would never jeopardize my child’s life,” Shawna said. But Terry disagreed, alluding to a past incident. Shawna said what she does remember is Terry abusing her Skylor, who she now says has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Terry claimed that in the couple’s divorce papers, a medical professional determined that Shawna’s life choices were what caused his PTSD.
Dr Phil: Incarcerated Teen Gets Sober
Dr Phil requested a letter from Skylor, who is currently incarcerated, so that his voice could be heard during the conversation on TV. Dr Phil shared some excerpts from the letter he received, in which Skylor said he hoped the world would know he is not a monster. “He wanted to be just like me,” Skylor said of Juju. “I wanted him to be better than me, though.”
Skylor also admitted to drug use and teenage bad behavior. He wrote that he knew he was a bad example for his younger brother. He said that he has gotten sober in prison and wants to take responsibility. He thanked his mother for standing by him during such a dark time. When it came time to talk details of the crime, Skylor’s letter got vague.
Everyone seemed to agree that Skylor was never a great student, so Dr Phil wondered whether he had some help from his mother in crafting this letter, which did seem to conveniently hit a lot of the right notes. Shawna said Skylor dictated the letter to her over the phone, and she simply added the punctuation.
Dr Phil: Grieving and Loss of a Loved One
Also during the show, Dr Phil shared a tribute in memory of 11-year-old Terry “Juju” Smith Jr. Both his parents had glowing things to say about his energy and attitude. It’s a very sad story, but I’m not sure what going on Dr Phil to talk about it is going to do for anyone. What would you want to say to the parents involved in this sad case?
If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one, look for some advice about grief and grieving in Dr Phil’s book Real Life: Preparing for the 7 Most Challenging Days of Your Life.