AUSTIN (KXAN) — One is now called a victim, and the other is called a suspect. But those labels hardly tell whole story of the relationship between Justice Presto and Patrick Molina.
“Patrick has lived in my home,” said Presto’s mother Dawnkenyon Barnes. “Him and Justice are like brothers.”
Friends since middle school, the two 17-year-old’s constantly hung out and were extremely close according to Barnes.
Ironically, they were there together the night Presto was shot on June 22. Austin police say Molina was the one holding the gun when it went off, killing Presto. Molina was in attendance at his friend’s funeral just days before he would be charged with manslaughter in Presto’s death.
“Patrick is being extremely honest,” said Barnes who has spoken to Molina about the incident that took her son’s life. “He was trying to take the clip out of the gun.”
Having listened to police and Molina, Barnes would be at peace by simply calling the tragedy an accident.
But as of now, the incident is also being called manslaughter.
“Justice would absolutely not want charges,” said Barnes. “Everyone is doing their job and it has nothing to do with my son. Patrick is caught up in the middle because he was the one holding (the gun.)”
Barnes has not spoken to anyone with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office but conveyed her wishes to the investigating detective. She believes a victim family’s desires should be taken into consideration when determining an appropriate punishment.
“If I am at peace with Patrick, I think everyone else should be at peace with Patrick.”
Just last week, a man was shot and killed by his son-in-law in an accidental shooting at a Cedar Park gun show. Cedar Park police have said charges are unlikely in that case.
The manslaughter statute in Texas is defined as when someone “recklessly causes the death of an individual.”
Austin police say the gun used in the incident was stolen from the personal vehicle of a University of Texas police officer, along with a bullet proof vest and police baton.
However, Barnes told KXAN neither Presto or Molina could have been involved with the actual burglary since they were both with her the night the equipment was reported stolen.
“They could not have been a part of taking it from the cop,” said Barnes.
In addition, Molina and Kent Haley were both charged with tampering with physical evidence after police say they tried to move Presto’s body from the apartment where the shooting happened. Barnes believes the two were trying to get her son to a hospital and she plans on helping their defense teams if the cases go to court.
“I am absolutely going to take part if it goes to trial,” she said. “We cannot punish them more than they are going to punish themselves. I promise you that.”
Instead, Barnes hopes the teenagers can serve their time by speaking to other kids about firearm safety.
“Jail is not the way to go,” she said. “It is not going to help anybody.”