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Thursday, June 19, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

Bruises, cuts cover dead child

TARBORO NC – The 13-year-old boy who died while tied to a tree last week sustained multiple injuries while bound, according to arrest warrants released Monday.

Tyler Gene McMillan was tied to a tree at his family home in Macclesfield for 18 hours, resulting in his death, according to the warrants. During that time, the boy suffered bruising to the wrist and cuts to the entire body. He also was missing flesh from his buttock.

N.C. District Court Judge Joseph Harper Jr. in Edgecombe County read the warrants during the first court appearance of Tyler's father, Brice McMillan, and stepmother, Sandra McMillan.

The two have been charged with first-degree murder and felony child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury in the death of their son. If convicted, they could face life in prison or the death penalty.

The McMillans appeared in court together Monday but did not acknowledge each other. Brice McMillan tried to fight back tears for most of the eight-minute hearing, while his wife stared at the floor.

The two have retained separate attorneys.

"It's a sad case," defense attorney Allen Powell, who represents Brice McMillan, said after the hearing. He declined to comment further.

A probable cause hearing has been scheduled for July 2.

Brice McMillan, 41, told Edgecombe County deputies last week that he tied his son to a tree in the family's yard at 1110 Felton Farm Road and forced him to sleep outside Tuesday and Wednesday nights because he was misbehaving, the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office said.

Stepmother Sandra McMillan, 36, found Tyler unresponsive around 4:30 p.m. Thursday after being tied to the tree since Wednesday night. He was pronounced dead at Heritage Hospital in Tarboro.

Authorities have not announced the cause of death.

The couple is being held at the Edgecombe County Detention Center without bond.

The Edgecombe County Department of Social Services took custody of two other children in the home, a 7- and 9-year-old, authorities said.

Tyler's mother died Sept. 24, 2004, of cancer.

According to neighbors, the McMillans home-schooled their children and moved to the area a few months ago.

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