Parents charged with tree death in court

TARBORO Paramedics responding to a cardiac call say Tyler McMillan did not respond to treatment when they arrived at the home.

The parents faced a judge Monday morning during their first appearance in court on felony child abuse and murder charges.

The arrest warrants contain graphic details of what Tyler endured before he died.

We saw different reactions from the two defendants in court Monday. Brice McMillan fought back tears throughout the hearing.

His wife Sandra McMillan showed little emotion before and during the reading of felony charges both parents face.

Arrest warrants list injuries--bruising to the wrist, cuts to the entire body--missing flesh from the buttocks. All contributing, police say to the boy's death.

The boy, Sandra's stepson and Brice's son, was tied to a tree for nearly 18 hours, according to arrest warrants.

Tyler's father told deputies he tied his son to the tree Tuesday night because the teen was being disobedient.

The boy was apparently untied Wednesday morning, but was tied back up that night for misbehaving again. On Thursday, paramedics arrived at the house to find the boy's father performing CPR.

It happened last week at the family's Edgecombe County home, on two of the hottest days of the year, days when smoke from a wildfire to the east filled the humid air. This morning Brice sobbed when he heard the judge's ruling.

"You did willfully, intentionally and with malice aforethought kill and murder Tyler G. McMillan. That charge of first degree murder is a felony in the jurisdiction of the superior court." After the hearing, Brice tried to avoid cameras as deputies led him to a waiting car which took him back to the county jail.

While Tyler's parents were in court, friends and family of the 13-year-old held a funeral for him at the Jarvis United Methodist Church in Greenville.

The McMillan family released a statement following Tyler's funeral and the arrest of Brice.

"We would like to thank the many friends and family who have shown support for us during our time of loss. We will miss Tyler very much and are in shock, disbelief and unbearable grief."

The couple is being held without bond.

They are due back in court for a probably cause hearing on July 2. If they are found guilty, they could face life in prison, or the death penalty.

Copyright © 2023 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.