Longtime friends Fischer Hoisington and Aaron Moore had planned to celebrate their shared 24th birthday with a simple night of video games and drinking.
But the December 2016 get-together at Moore’s South Austin apartment turned deadly when their attention turned to a 9-millimeter handgun that only Moore, the owner of the firearm, realized was loaded and cocked.
As Moore started to caution his friend against firing the weapon, Hoisington pulled the trigger with the barrel aimed at Moore’s chest, according to police. Hoisington told detectives he did not expect a bullet to discharge.
Hoisington, who first met Moore when they were in kindergarten at Austin Waldorf School, will spend 120 days in jail after pleading guilty Friday in connection with his friend’s death. The plea agreement he reached with Travis County prosecutors calls for Hoisington to finish off the six-year sentence on probation, pay a $1,500 fine and complete 100 hours of community service.
The second-degree felony manslaughter charge that Hoisington originally faced was reduced to criminally negligent homicide, a third-degree felony.
“This is a very tragic circumstance that befell both of these young men — Aaron Moore, in particular,” prosecutor James Booher said.
Hoisington, who had been released on a $10,000 bond, surrendered to authorities Friday and will be behind bars until around his Dec. 12 birthday — the second anniversary of the shooting.
Moore’s father, Kevin, said he believes Hoisington meant no harm when he fired the weapon that killed his son. However, he does not believe the portion of Hoisington’s statement to police when he said it was Moore who removed the gun from a kitchen drawer and must have loaded it with a bullet.
The younger Moore, an avid outdoorsman who liked to fish and hunt, would have known better than to play around with a deadly weapon, his dad said.
“Knowing my son, I don’t believe that was the case because I know how he was with that gun and that’s just not something he would do,” Kevin Moore said. “I know that in my heart. That’s Fischer’s side of the story. They were the only two people in the room.”
Kevin Moore added he was surprised to learn the state does not have a law that prohibits someone who is intoxicated from possessing a gun. Hoisington told police he and Aaron Moore had spent the night drinking wine and beer.
Formal sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 24, when Hoisington will appear in court and be addressed from the witness stand by Aaron Moore’s mother and his 22-year-old sister.
Aaron Moore attended Waldorf with Hoisington through their sophomore high school years before Moore transferred to St. Stephen Episcopal School. A standout athlete who was 6 foot-3, Moore enrolled to University of Portland where he played two seasons for the school’s baseball team.
His relationship with Hoisington had become distant, his father said. The two reunited when Moore returned to Austin and transferred to St. Edward’s. They hung out but were not best friends, Kevin Moore said.
Since the shooting, Hoisington has been enrolled in alcohol recovery courses and has not drank, said his attorney, Wayne Meissner. In August 2017, he graduated from St. Edward’s University with a bachelor’s in kinesiology.
“He looks forward to continuing to progress in his own life and expresses only good wishes for the Moore family,” Meissner said.
Before his death, Aaron Moore had agreed to be a partner in his father’s equipment rental business, Austin Rent Way, and had developed strategic plans to expand the company. He was one semester away from earning a business administration degree from Texas State and had recently gotten his own place at Austin City Lights on East Stassney.
Moore had recently adopted a German Shepherd, Ruffles. He did not like the name, so he renamed the dog Bentley.
“He had so much going for him and he was really coming into his own as a man and taking charge of his life,” Kevin Moore said. “He knew what direction he wanted to go, but he’s never going to have that opportunity. The grand kids we won’t have, the life he doesn’t have, is just tragic.”