Shooting pulls families into tragedy

Shooting pulls families into tragedy

March 18th, 2011 by Beth Burger in News

Jesse and Cheryl Compton, parents of Myles Compton, speak to reporters outside Judge Russell Bean's courtroom Thursday after a hearing for Myles Stout, who faces charges in the shooting death of his friend, Myles Compton. Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Jesse and Cheryl Compton, parents of Myles Compton,...

The daily reminders are many.

"There's nothing you touch or see that doesn't make you think of him," said Jesse Compton, father of 18-year-old Myles Compton, who was slain when another young man fired a .38-caliber bullet into his chest.

"We talked about gun safety probably about a week ago," said Myles' mother, Cheryl Compton. "Myles said, 'What if someone does this or does that?' I said, 'You don't get in that situation.'"

The accused shooter, 20-year-old Myles Stout, said the two young men were horseplaying while hanging out at a house at 9125 Stoney Mountain Drive on March 9, according to reports.

Myles Stout is escorted into Judge Russell Bean's courtroom by Hamilton County court officer Tommy Eustice in this file photo. Stout faces charges in the shooting death of his friend, Myles Compton.

Myles Stout is escorted into Judge Russell Bean's...

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

Stout appeared in General Sessions Judge David Bales' courtroom Thursday to be charged formally with second-degree murder, reckless endangerment with a weapon, reckless homicide, filing a false police report and tampering with evidence.

Stout stood handcuffed beside his defense attorney, Hank Hill, who argued that the facts of the case have not changed. He said Stout had no intent to kill Compton, and intent must be proved to convict on second-degree murder.

The case was continued to March 24 for a preliminary hearing.

Stout's parents, Dr. Paul Stout and his wife, sat near the Comptons, who were with about 20 family members. As the Compton family began to file out, Stout looked over the audience.

The Stouts declined to comment.

Myles Stout remained in the Hamilton County Jail on Thursday afternoon. His bond on the second-degree murder charge alone is $115,000. If convicted, he could face 15 to 25 years in prison, according to Tennessee law.

"I don't know if I want him out. It makes me nervous," Cheryl Compton said outside the courtroom.

friend describes scene

Kevin West was Myles Compton's friend and was with him at the Stoney Mountain Drive home the night of the shooting.

He said Stout was staying with the home's owners, and about five people were hanging out when he and Compton arrived. He said some of the young people had been drinking.

When the guns were brought out by Kevin Driscoll, the son of the owners, Compton said he didn't want to be around them, West said.

"I unloaded both guns completely," West said. "They were unloaded with the clip out - completely disabled."

According to arrest reports, Myles Stout loaded one of the guns, pointed it at Compton and fired.

"Myles [Compton] turned and looked at me and said, 'My heart,'" West said. "So I grabbed his jacket and laid him down.

"It was just a stupid mistake, not knowing what he [Stout] was doing with a gun," West said. "I don't know what he was thinking."

Stout initially told detectives Compton shot himself, but admitted firing the shot when confronted with the witnesses' testimony.

Hill said there was no animosity between Compton and Stout.

"It's a tragic case, obviously, for everyone involved. ... I can tell you my client is showing extreme remorse," Hill said. "He's a very young man."

Meanwhile, the reminders keep coming for the Comptons.

Two days ago, they received a letter from their late son. He wrote the letter to himself seven years ago, as a fifth-grader at Westview Elementary School, and it was supposed to be mailed to him as a high school senior. The letter was given to the Comptons by a teacher.

Inside are the reflections of a young boy and dreams that now will never come true.

"He told about his girlfriends, music he was listening to, cars he wanted to drive when he was older," his mother said. "He said he wanted to be a physician when he was in fifth grade, and he tore off the corner as a code to let himself know the letter was from him."

Little by little the reminders are less painful.

"I used to cry when I looked at his pictures," " she said. "Now it makes me happy. He was always smiling."