Smith Files Wrongful Death Suit Against Ex-Wife, Partner

This photo was taken a few days after the body of Terry Smith Jr. was found buried in the family...

This photo was taken a few days after the body of Terry Smith Jr. was found buried in the family's Menifee back yard. The freshly disturbed dirt to the right of the pepper tree is the spot where the 11-year-old's body was found buried three days after his reported disappearance.
Terry Smith Sr., father of the 11-year-old boy who was found murdered in his Menifee back yard a year ago, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his ex-wife and her live-in partner.

The suit, filed May 27 in Riverside Superior Court, accuses defendants Shawna Smith and Dennise Bugna of gross negligence in leaving Terry Smith Jr. home alone with his half brother, Skylor Atilano, who was 16 at the time. The suit alleges that Atilano "had expressed fear that he would harm Terry Smith Jr. (and) suffered from mental illnesses including multiple personality disorder, had an extensive history of psychiatric hospitalization for violent outbursts and suicidal ideation stretching back 10 years, was on probation for an October 2012 felony assault, and had a history of alcohol and controlled substance abuse."

The body of Terry Smith Jr. (left) was found buried in a shallow grave in the family's back yard on Helen Lane on July 10, 2013. Atilano was arrested and charged with the murder. He remains in the Southwest Detention Center in French Valley, awaiting an Aug. 7 court hearing.

The wrongful death suit alleges that "the murder of Terry Smith Jr. at the hands of Skylor Atilano was reasonably foreseeable and could have been prevented by the defendants had they declined to leave Terry Smith Jr. home alone with Skylor Atilano. According to the lawsuit, Smith and Bugna left Terry Smith Jr. home alone with Atilano the night of July 6, 2013 while they went out to play pool.

In an interview with Menifee 24/7 on July 8, 2013, Atilano said he left his house the night of July 6 to visit a friend. He said Terry began following him and he told him to go home. He said when he returned home later, he went to bed and assumed Terry was in bed, too.

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