Detention Hearing Reset for Sept. 17; Atilano Still in Custody

Skylor Atilano, accused of the murder of his half brother Terry Smith Jr., sits beside his defen...

Skylor Atilano, accused of the murder of his half brother Terry Smith Jr., sits beside his defense attorney in court today.
A judge today granted the defense's request to hold over the detention hearing for murder suspect Skylor Atilano of Menifee until Sept. 17, ruling the 16-year-old will remain in custody in the interim.

Dozens of media members, friends of the suspect and onlookers packed the court room and waited outside for a decision on the fate of Atilano, who is accused of murdering his half brother, 11-year-old Terry Smith Jr. Currently, the case is being heard in juvenile court at the Southwest Detention Center in French Valley. The judge has yet to rule whether Atilano will be tried as a juvenile or an adult.

John Hall, spokesman for the Riverside County district attorney's office, said that decision probably will not even be made at the Sept. 17 hearing. The detention hearing is to determine whether the juvenile should remain in custody pending further court proceedings.

According to Hall (left), the judge made an interim finding to detain the suspect in custody until the next hearing, "based on the safety of the public as well as of the juvenile."

In the courtroom, the judge cited Atilano's probation status for previous "violent outbursts" as a factor in his decision to order that Atilano remain in custody. Hall said he could not discuss the suspect's past.

Hall told reporters outside the courtroom that the DA's office has petitioned the court for a 707 fitness hearing. Under section 707 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, a juvenile accused of a serious felony may be subject to a fitness hearing, in which the juvenile court judge decides whether to send the juvenile to adult court.

"We have requested a 707," said Hall. "We feel based on the evidence we have, it's better for the judge to make that decision."

In a separate request made before the judge, a representative of the Riverside County Probation Office requested that a psychological evaluation be performed on Atilano. The defense objected to that request, saying there was no legal basis for it. The judge decided not to order that evaluation at this time, pending the outcome of the Sept. 17 hearing.

Atilano's mother, Shawna (Bekkah) Smith, attended the hearing with other family members but chose not to speak to the media.