Urging juvenile trial, lawyer says boy not misplaced trigger

LITTLE ROCK – Psychological tests show a Little Rock teenager accused of killing his mother is a good candidate for rehabilitation benefits he would receive in a juvenile court, lawyers for the 17-year-old told a district judge Thursday in Pulaski County made the decision to try to overturn the boy as an adult.

Prosecutors suggested that Kaelon Duwan Presley, charged with capital murder and evidence manipulation, is a psychopath who says whatever he believes will help him get what he wants.

The sides met Thursday at a hearing in front of Judge Wendell Griffen, who said he would decide the issue after receiving written arguments from prosecutors and defense over the next two weeks.

Presley was 16 years old in December 2019, about 1½ weeks before Christmas, when police found his 37-year-old mother, Shondra Laney Miller, dead in the living room of the family home on Brush Creek Avenue. She had been shot through the back right side of her head and the bullet had left her left temple.

The officers had received two 911 calls around 8:30 a.m., about two minutes apart, reporting that Miller had been killed. The first call came from Police Sgt. Willie Davis, who reported that he had been on the phone with a student he was supervising and that someone had been killed in the house.

Miller’s friend Breanna “Bree” Barnes, 29, was the second caller, telling police that she called Presley when she couldn’t call Miller that morning and told her that his mother had been killed by an intruder to police reports.

Barnes said she last saw Miller around 6:40 a.m. when she left for work and tried to call her about 30 minutes later. Barnes showed police a photo that she said Presley had texted her showing the woman slumped on the couch.

Detective Matt Harrelson testified Thursday that Presley Davis and Barnes told the same story – that the family dog ​​came out of the house and that while he was chasing it, someone walked through the back of the residence and shot his mother.

But before the police arrived that morning, Presley told a neighbor otherwise – that his mother shot herself, the detective told the judge.

While in custody, the teenager told the detectives that something his mother said had made him angry, so he got a gun – a gun he had been holding for a friend – and pointed the gun at his mother when she was sitting on the couch playing with her phone and accidentally pulled the trigger when he “wiggled it,” Harrelson said. Presley couldn’t remember what his mother had said to him, said the detective.

Presley told detectives that he never intended to kill his mother and was remorseful to tears for killing her, Harrelson told the judge.

A motion-activated security camera in the back of the house showed Presley walking outside and throwing something, but the police don’t know what it was, the detective testified.

Investigators never found the gun, he said. Presley told them he had returned the gun to the friend, but when detectives questioned this boy, he said he never had a gun and didn’t know about it. Police also ransacked the friend’s house on Maureen Drive, about seven miles from the shooting range, Harrelson testified.

Presley also told the detectives that he had been physically and mentally abused by his mother, but that allegation was refuted by the psychologist who examined the teenager on defense.

Benjamin Silber, who works part-time for the state hospital, told the judge Presley regretted his mother’s death, but also admitted that he lied to the police because she was abused by her. Presley didn’t testify Thursday, and Silber’s psychological assessment of the teen is at the heart of the defense case of the teen going to juvenile justice.

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