Life sentence in Wilmington Island double murder case ‘not enough’ according to victim’s family

Crime & Safety

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The murder of Luis and Akia Molina happened two years ago.

Finally, the teen suspect in the case has pleaded guilty and been sentenced. But at least one victim’s family says it is not enough.

Michael Barber stood next to his lawyer, with a mask on, on Zoom with a judge Wednesday to admit he was guilty of murder.

Barber was only 16-years-old when he stabbed Luis Molina, a Savannah Police officer, as well as Luis’s wife and Barber’s half-sister, Akia, to death.

Barber was living with the couple on Wilmington Island in August of 2018.

He apparently went online to research how to commit murder. Even went so far as to tell his sister he was going to kill Luis Molina. Then, before sunrise on August 13, 2018, Barber put his plan in action.

Chatham County prosecutors detailed the horrific stabbing in court.

“The defendant went into Luis Molina’s bedroom armed with a knife longer than 3 inches and stabbed Luis Molina in the neck while he was asleep,” said Chatham County Assistant District Attorney Greg McConnell.

Luis Molina staggered out of the house with that wound, over to his neighbor’s house to get help. He died on their front porch.

Then prosecutors say Barber went back for Akia Molina.

“When she saw the defendant covered in blood and learned he had stabbed Luis,” details McConnell, “according to the defendant she started to scream and he stabbed her in the neck.”

Akia Molina died inside the house of that wound.

Barber then walked outside, put down his weapon, and waited for police.

“After waiving his Miranda rights, the defendant admitted to having stabbed both victims in the neck,” said McConnell, “and stated his intent was to make Luis suffer like he made his sister suffer.”

Barber claimed Luis Molina was abusive toward both he and his sister. The couple was having marital trouble at the time of the killings.

Now 18, Barber admitted to the crime again. Pleading guilty to four different charges, including felony murder and a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter.

The plea deal meant prosecutors would ask for a sentence of life with the possibility of parole.

Judge Benjamin Karpf agreed to those terms, sentencing Barber to life with parole, as well as another 20 years to be served first for two weapons charges. Karpf also had a message for the teen.

“Make sure that during the course of your life you don’t take anything away from the world again,” said Karpf, “and find instead a chance to give something back to the world.”

Roberto Molina says he still mourns the loss of his brother Luis, his son’s Godfather

In less than an hour, the hearing was over and Barber headed to prison. But for Luis Molina’s brother, the pain continues.

“He should have had life without parole,” said Roberto Molina. “He should have had the death penalty. He shouldn’t even be living.”

Roberto Molina believes the sentence was not harsh enough for the man who killed Luis.

“He doesn’t deserve no f— chance,” said a defiant Roberto Molina. “He doesn’t deserve another chance. He killed his f— sister, my brother. It doesn’t matter how much time he serves in there. He’s still going to come out the same f— demon.”

Roberto Molina says Akia Molina begged her husband to let Barber in, to help him straighten out his life. He did that for her, Roberto Molina says.

But it cost Luis Molina his life.

“That’s a demon there. He’s a demon. He’s a predator, he’s a demon,” says Roberto. “He looks for a way to find a weakness from their families and cut their own family in the throat.

“What I wanted to see is his eyes closed. I wanted to see his eyes closed in front of me. Just like he did to my brother.”

As for the claims by Barber of abuse in the home, Roberto Molina said he and his brother knew what it was like firsthand.

“My father abused all of us when we were young. My brother Luis also,” he said. “We were hit and beat up by my father and had to get separated from the abuse and the cuts and bleeding from my father and we turned out OK. We didn’t use that as an excuse to go out and kill other people.”

Now, Barber won’t have that chance for at least 20 years. Roberto Molina says he and his family will make sure that sentence is for life.

“From here on, I don’t even want to hear or see Barber’s name. He doesn’t exist anymore,” he said.

“That was my brother, that was my son’s godfather,” Roberto Molina continued. “I will be there to make sure he doesn’t go on parole.”

“Forget the sentence, just give me 15 minutes with him. I’m going to kill him with my own bare hands,” said an angry Roberto Molina, “just like he did to them but this time I won’t do it in the darkness it will be in the light.

“He was a coward. He was freaking coward.”

Now Roberto Molina says his family must move on, memories of Luis Molina still strong. A mural is painted on the wall of Roberto’s house to honor his brother who he calls a “heroic man”.

“Will this make it any easier?” News 3 asked.

“A little bit. We know he is not walking around on the street,” Roberto Molina said. “He’s going to be there for over 30 years then parole. But no parole. Parole is not coming.”

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