Michael Ayers was a defense attorney in the making.
When he asked a question and didn't agree with the answer, he developed a long explanation filled with his own thoughts and arguments. When the teachers at his child care facility requested he return a toy to one of his peers, Michael, 2, said he did not steal, but rather borrowed, the item.
"They say he was his mother's son because he could have a conversation with pretty much anyone," Hollie Ayers told msnbc. Ayers referred to her son as a "little greeter" at child care because he was friendly and enthusiastic.
Living in rural Belleville, Pa., Michael had a passion for construction and transportation vehicles, especially John Deere tractors and lawn mowers. He favored reading "Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site" before bed, and he connected pillows into a row and pretended to ride a tractor while his mom sat in a wagon. He browsed Sears and Lowe's catalogs, telling his mother the family needed a leaf blower instead of using plain-old rakes to clean their yard.
Michael occasionally asked to sit on his teacher's back for a mock tractor ride. When she told him she was "out of gas," he retrieved an item and pretended to refill her fuel. And when she was "broken," he placed a screwdriver at her hip to fix her. He once tried to comfort a crying infant with his toy tractor.
Michael knew most of the staff at child care by name. He was one of the older kids there, inquisitive and affectionate but often not graceful. He was always on the go, which made his mother accustomed to picking him up in the afternoons with a bruise or bump on his forehead from tripping over his own feet. After the spills occurred, he held up his hand, said "It's OK. I'm all right," and requested a pack of ice.
Michael was shot to death by his father on March 23, 2013 during a routine custody visit at his paternal grandmother's home in Petersburg, Pa. Michael's mother, Hollie, suffered non-life threatening gunshot wounds. His father fled the scene and later fatally shot himself.