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Family of 11-year-old charged in girl’s shooting death: He didn’t pull trigger

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Posted at 8:41 AM, Nov 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-26 08:42:01-05

What started as a disagreement between two neighborhood children over a puppy ended with the death of one child and murder charges for the other. Now the great-grandparents of the 11-year-old boy facing a first-degree murder count say the boy did not pull the trigger.

Jack and Dianna Houchins, told CNN affiliate WATE on Tuesday that the boy, whom CNN is not naming because of his age, did not kill 8-year-old MaKayla Dyer. Instead, the boy claims another child accidentally fired the fatal shot on October 3.

“He does not understand why these friends of his do not come forward and tell the truth about what happened that day,” Dianna Houchins said in a prepared statement to WATE.

The shooting shattered the families’ close-knit mobile home community in White Pine, Tennessee — roughly 40 miles east of Knoxville.

While the adults were inside watching college football, the children were playing outside.

“The little boy said he wanted to pet the puppies and they said no and kind of laughed and giggled a little bit. That’s when he pointed a BB gun at them,” neighbor Wayne Joslin told CNN in October.

“He’d misfired or something. Then he threw it down and that’s when he went and got the shotgun,” Joslin said.

Joslin says he did not see the boy pull the trigger.

Jefferson County Sheriff Bud McCoig told The Washington Post the boy used his father’s 12-gauge shotgun that he pulled from an unlocked closet.

Chasity Arwood, who manages the mobile home park where both children lived with their families, told The Knoxville News Sentinel that the boy fired the shot through an open window.

Dianna Houchins says the boy admits that he took the gun from his father’s closet. However, the boy says he passed the gun to a friend through the window.

“He did not know the gun was loaded when he showed it to his friend,” she said.

The boy claims that friend accidentally pulled the trigger and shot MaKayla, the boy’s great-grandparents said.

“We believe that when the autopsy is revealed, it will show that the victim was shot from the ground, at close range,” Dianna Houchins said.

The boy has been held at the Richard L. Bean Juvenile Services Center in Knoxville for more than six weeks. Bond was set at $500,000.

“There is no other evidence. That’s why we came forward,” Dianna Houchins said.

CNN’s calls to the district attorney’s office and the public defender representing the boy were not immediately returned Wednesday.

A girl who ‘loved everybody’

Makayla’s family is spending their first holiday season without the girl they called “BooBah.”

She died three weeks after her 8th birthday.

“She was a lovable, little, adorable and typical 8-year old girl that enjoyed life and loved everybody,” great-uncle Kenneth Norton told CNN days after her death.

MaKayla’s favorite movie was Disney’s “Frozen.” Some relatives wore T-shirts emblazoned with characters from the movie. The hit song “Let It Go” was played on a loop as hundreds of people came to say goodbye.

“She didn’t know (any) strangers … and anytime that you were doing anything … she wanted to be a part of it,” Norton said.