Teenager Found Guilty of Murder - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

11/09/06 - Trinity County

Teenager Found Guilty of Murder

by Ramonica R. Jones

Tommy Middleton fired several rounds at a family's home because he was worried they would hurt a pet alligator he'd put in a pond behind their home. Instead, one of those stray bullets struck a woman inside a nearby bar, killing her.

It only took 45 minutes of deliberation for jurors to convict Middleton of murder. The teenager killed 50-year-old Dody Peroutka last April as she was leaving the restroom at K.C.'s bar in Trinity.

A day after the shooting, Kaye Weaver, the club's owner, said, "Bullets come through the back of the building. She was walking out of the bathroom, got shot and killed, and we are very, very sorry. We miss her and love her."

Over the summer, Middleton spent time in a psychiatric hospital after being found mentally incompetent to stand trial. Jurors didn't buy it. The victim's friends and family don't either.

"He never came across that way to me at all," said Ann Boyd, Peroutka's friend. "He was very coherent. He always knew what he was doing. [He] just didn't ever come across as being mentally retarded or anything."

Boyd worked at K.C.'s for a year and had gotten to know a little about Middleton because he was a regular customer there, but she never expected she'd be testifying against him in a murder trial.

"He came in for lunch," Boyd said. "He was just really arrogant and a very rude little boy. He had no manners."

Boyd was there the night her friend was shot to death, and stayed with Peroutka until she took her last breath. The owner of K.C.'s Bar and Grill even put a picture of the three-wheeler Peroutka was riding that night on the club's 'Wall of Honor'. 

Middleton's sentencing is set for 9:00 a.m. Monday. He faces up to 99 years in prison.

His father did not want to go on camera, but told the East Texas News his son should have been tried on a lesser charge.

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