DNA links man to killing of girl killed after waking her dad up

A Florida girl who authorities say was shot by her father and killed in her bed over a decade ago, may have been killed in a “deliberate act,” according to a newly released police report.

The former boyfriend of the 14-year-old girl, who was a minor at the time, has been charged with first-degree murder in her death, according to a report from the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

According to the police report, 38-year-old Ryan Middleton shot 14-year-old Sydney Richard Givens in her bed.

On the night she was killed, Middleton woke Sydney and her father, James Givens, told authorities the girl woke her father up, the police report said. Middleton then entered the bedroom while Sydney was sleeping, put a gun under her pillow and shot her, authorities said. He reportedly fled the home as James Givens called 911.

Authorities say it appears Middleton shot Sydney after the teen opened her eyes. She was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Investigators say there is not evidence that James Givens was a suspect.

Middleton, now 39, has been charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Sydney. A judge ordered Middleton held without bond.

Sydney was still a minor when the shooting occurred. Her death was originally ruled a suicide by the Volusia County Medical Examiner’s Office.

After listening to the full 10-page police report, Circuit Judge Joseph Henning concluded that Middleton, a bodybuilder, was likely to kill Sydney.

“You murder somebody for no reason,” Henning said to Middleton. “It’s a murder for no reason.”

Sydney’s mother told authorities her daughter had been involved in a relationship with Middleton since around 2007. In an interview with a Florida News-Journal reporter, Givens said he didn’t know Middleton had a gun until after his daughter died.

“After everything was said and done, I went in there and I called [Sydney’s] cellphone,” Givens said. “When I hit the number, she answered the phone … I talked to her for a few minutes. She told me that [Middleton] was going to bring her home. She didn’t want to, but I let him do it.”

According to the report, Middleton told authorities that Sydney opened her eyes and he pulled the trigger.

“Ryan said that it was a ‘deliberate act’ on Sydney’s part to have opened her eyes after all of this happened,” the report said.

Middleton also told authorities he had helped bury Sydney in a shallow grave in northern Volusia County, said the report.

Following Sydney’s death, Middleton lost custody of his children. He has a total of three children from two different mothers, according to the report.

Middleton, who was out on $150,000 bond, is due back in court for a pre-trial hearing on Nov. 1.

With assistance from Cristina Alesci, Matt McFarland and Jadyn A. Phillips.

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