- Katie Hall American-Statesman Staff
The brother of a man who investigators believe was killed by his son described his brother as a compassionate father who continued to care for his mentally ill son even after his son attacked him with a shovel six years ago.
Skye McMillon, 24, was first booked into the Travis County Jail on July 24 on a charge of tampering or fabricating physical evidence “with intent to impair a human corpse,” according to arrest records filed last week. On Monday, he was charged with murder in the death of his father, 60-year-old Steven Nurse.
McMillon is still in jail, records show. A judge has since increased his bail amount from $100,000 to $600,000.
Nurse’s skull and throat had blunt force trauma that likely resulted in his death, Travis County sheriff’s investigators wrote in McMillon’s arrest affidavit, filed Monday. Investigators have not yet put forth a theory about exactly how or why they think McMillon killed Nurse.
In 2011, McMillon told Travis County investigators that he wanted to kill his father, according court records. Deputies showed up to their house that year because McMillon had hit Nurse repeatedly with a shovel, causing injuries that nearly killed him, records show. McMillon told deputies that he had been planning to kill his father, then himself, for two weeks.
“Steve was never the same after that,” said Tom Nurse, Nurse’s brother and McMillon’s uncle. “He could never walk as well or use his hand as well. He couldn’t speak as well. … He had halting speech patterns.”
McMillon was arrested after the 2011 incident and diagnosed with manic depressive disorder with psychosis, his uncle said. He was in jail for 16 months before he pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. After spending some time in a substance abuse felony punishment facility, he was instructed to report to Travis County’s Mental Health Support Court and not to live with Nurse without a judge’s approval.
A judge also ruled that McMillon had to take a psychological evaluation before being released from the treatment facility, and once released, he had to report to a psychologist and take all medications as prescribed.
He failed to report to his supervision officer and take his medications in July 2013, so his probation was revoked and he was jailed again, records show. He was later released on probation again, and a judge gave him permission to reside with his parents in July 2014.
“There were substantial efforts by everyone in 2011, including the court, defense, prosecutor and parents, to find the right solution to the situation,” said his attorney Keith Lauerman, who is currently representing McMillon and was also his attorney in 2011. “The latest accusation is shocking and disheartening.”
Neither Lauerman nor sheriff’s officials commented on McMillon’s mental health or its possible role in the accusations against him.
Despite the violent attack in 2011, Steven Nurse had been caring for McMillon on his own for the last few years, his brother said.
“Steve displayed an amazing amount of fatherly love,” Tom Nurse said. “He was aware his life was in danger, but he said, ‘I need to help my son.’”
Steven Nurse felt that no facility could take care of McMillon like he could, his brother said.
Deputies first got involved in the case when Steven Nurse’s boss called the sheriff’s office because he hadn’t come to work in 13 days and wasn’t answering his phone, the affidavit says. On July 23, deputies found Steven Nurse dead on the floor of his house in the 10200 block of Sandy Beach Road, and they believe he had died several days earlier. His body was covered with a comforter, blanket, towels and what appeared to be salt and foot powder.
Deputies later found McMillon in his father’s car and with his father’s cellphone. He told detectives he had taken his father to the hospital two days earlier and hadn’t checked on him since. However, there was no record of Steven Nurse having been in any Austin-area hospitals, investigators said.