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Slain boy's grandmother outraged by parents' sentences

Posted June 30, 2009

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— The maternal grandmother of a boy who died last year after spending the night tied to a tree said Tuesday that the plea deals his father and stepmother received are an injustice.

Brice McMillan and his wife, Sandra McMillan, were sentenced Monday to no more than 16 years in prison each for the June 12, 2008, death of Tyler McMillan.

Tyler McMillan Slain teen's grandmother speaks out

Tyler, 13, died of dehydration and heat stroke after being tied twice to a tree as punishment for disobedience, authorities have said. The second time, he was left outside overnight.

His parents were charged with first-degree murder and felony child abuse, but they pleaded guilty to second-degree murder this month under an Alford plea – meaning that they maintain their innocence while acknowledging that prosecutors had enough evidence to possibly win a conviction

Sandra McMillan was sentenced to 13 to 16 years in prison, while Brice McMillan was sentenced to 10 to 13 years.

Both tearfully apologized during their sentencing, saying they never meant for the boy to die.

"I think he's a sorry excuse for a man, and I think he's a sorry excuse for a father," said June Sasser, of her grandson's father. Sasser’s daughter Mickie was Tyler’s mother. She died of cancer in 2004.

Sasser said that she was stunned by the sentences, adding that they are far less than those involved in financial scams, such as financier Bernie Madoff, who was sentenced Monday in one of the biggest financial frauds in history.

"He gets 150 years. Two people kill a child in a god-awful way – they get 10 years?" Sasser said.

Brice McMillan married Sandra McMillan after the death of his first wife and the couple, Tyler and his younger brother lived in Macclesfield.

Sasser said she rarely saw her grandsons after the wedding and claimed that Sandra McMillan threw out all reminders of the boys' mother, including photos and family Bibles.

She learned of Tyler's death, she said, from her son-in-law, who called her from jail.

"In a very flat dead monotone voice, (he said), 'Tyler's dead, and I've been arrested for first-degree murder, and I'm in jail,'" Sasser recalled.

After Brice McMillan pleaded guilty earlier this month, Sasser said, she started an online petition and wrote to the Edgecombe County district attorney's office urging prosecutors not to offer a deal to Sandra McMillan.

Prosecutors said in court Monday that they offered the pleas because they did not believe the McMillans intended to kill Tyler and that the deal was in the best interest of all involved.

Sasser disagrees.

"What did they think was going to happen?" she asked. "Maybe they weren't trying to kill him, but they were sure trying to hurt him."

After fighting so long for justice, Sasser said she will now focus on preserving her grandson's memory.

"He was just one of the most sweetest and loving young men I've ever seen," she said.


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  • merrywidow Jul 1, 2009

    My parents divorced when I was 4 and my fathered remarried when I was 6 and my stepmother was just like this "biddy"stepmother. My stepmother threw out all pics of my Mom: I lost a whole part of my childhood and I still resent it.

    My stepmother was a "biddy" too. My father divorced her when I moved out the house. But the psychological harm had already been done......

    Women who are insecure should not be allowed to marry men with children. My sweetie has a stepdaughter and a son and daughter ages 20 thru 27 and I will never ever say that they can't have full family pics in our house (Just as my daughter will always have a place with me, so will my sweetie's kids. His kids are my "bonus babies"). I am not replacing their Mom nor trying to.

  • 4DukeTillDeath Jul 1, 2009

    "Help me understand why the Father's sentence was shorter than the Step Mother's sentence."

    She was the abusive stepmother. Even though the father took all the blame she was the one who actually tied the boy to the tree. But if the this ended up going to trial the father and the daughter were set to testify against Sandra. She never accepted any responsibility for the boys death. And he was just a big wuss who let his wife run all over him.

  • 2alegal Jul 1, 2009

    Where was the grandmother when all this was going on? I see my grandkids several times a week.

  • ncguy Jul 1, 2009

    Grandma should have fought more for him while he was alive.If what she ssaid of the dad was true.

    It would have taken 1 visit from a social worker to see this boy was abused.

  • Historian-the naked gardener Jul 1, 2009

    I agree with the grandmother.

  • mom2threecld Jul 1, 2009

    we have no justice system what so ever. it's true, rob a bank and get 2 life sentences, kill someone and get out in 10 yrs on good behavior. it's a shame our laws are like this. they should have gotten the death penalty in 30 days carried out in my opinion

  • alwaysconcernedmom Jul 1, 2009

    Very tragic that a life is worth so little to our justice system. No wonder people keep doing evil things to one another! There is no punishment.

  • Ladybug1 Jul 1, 2009

    Help me understand why the Father's sentence was shorter than the Step Mother's sentence. Did he allow her to take care of the discipline? What a whimp of a man. Pitiful excuse for the use of oxygen. What parent has to discipline a child with such a horrible punishment? Evil, evil, evil. These are the kind of people who will burn in hades.

  • dogluvr26 Jul 1, 2009

    It's good to see there's at least one family member who seems to have it together; my heart goes out to the grandmother & other loved ones not involved.

    This is a ridiculous and flagrant abuse of the justice system.

    "Prosecutors said in court Monday that they offered the pleas because they did not believe the McMillans intended to kill Tyler and that the deal was in the best interest of all involved."

    So what?! They didn't intend to kill the poor boy, but the fact is that they did--after tying him to a blasted tree overnight!! Not to mention that there's a pattern of abuse here. And how on earth is this in the best interest for all involved? Wasn't Tyler involved? How is this in the best interest of what he un-imaginably suffered? This is truly one of the most disturbing situations I've read about, and I have spent plenty of time volunteering as an advocate on behalf of abused children. It sickens me.

  • tiblet Jul 1, 2009

    there are a lot of tragic things that are shared via the news but every once in a while something comes along that just haunts you...and that's what this child's death has done for me. I don't even know how you can find an impartial jury for a case like this one.

    Prayers to Tyler's grandmother and brother. Hopefully she can build a relationship with her other grandson now.