COLUMBIA — One of the eight men charged in the slaying of Aaron Hobson was sentenced Monday to 45 years in prison.
Daron Martez Peal, 24, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and armed criminal action in July for his role in Hobson's death last October. Judge Gary Oxenhandler sentenced him to 25 years for second-degree murder and 20 years for armed criminal action, to be served consecutively.
Peal’s defense lawyer, Gerald Mueller, argued for less time: 10 years for second-degree murder and 15 for armed criminal action. Mueller noted inconsistencies in statements about who actually shot Hobson, though he said his client didn't deny responsibility for what happened.
Arguing for leniency toward Peal, Mueller said: "He does come from a tough environment. He was very close to his mother. She passed away a year ago."
But Boone County Chief Prosecutor Dan Knight asked for a 50-year sentence for Peal — 25 years for each count — noting that Peal most likely fired the shot that killed Hobson. Surveillance video from the incident showed Peal with an object in his right hand that resembled a gun, Knight said.
Hobson, 22, who lived in Wichita, Kan., was the cousin of Missouri football player Trey Hobson and was in town to see his cousin play in last season's homecoming game.
Around 1 a.m. on Oct. 23, a caller contacted Columbia police to report a number of cars and people in the parking lot of the Break Time convenience store at 110 E. Nifong Blvd, according to previous Missourian reports. The cars and people were still on the lot when police arrived; shots were fired shortly afterward.
Aaron Hobson was taken to University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
During Peal's sentencing hearing, Aaron Hobson’s mother, Rossa K. Hunt described the emotional toll her son’s death had on her.
"The brutal death of Aaron has turned my life upside down," she said. "He was my only son, and we were very close. I can say this is the worst tragedy I’ve ever experienced."
Hunt said she couldn’t understand why her son was attacked. Her voice cracked as she read a statement to the court, saying Peal did not value life.
"The time Daron (Peal) is given for his charges by no means makes up for the loss of Aaron," she said.
Hunt said Aaron Hobson would have graduated in May with a degree in business from Prairie View A&M University in Texas. She said her son had taken time off from school to take care of his ailing father, Dwayne Hobson, who died on Aug. 11.
"Everyday I have to deal with the emptiness that Aaron’s gone," Hunt said. "I can’t talk to him. I won’t see him."
Annette Jackson-Taylor, an acquaintance of the Hobson family, described Aaron Hobson as "always available to lend a helping hand."
"He had everything to live for," Jackson-Taylor said.
Of the eight men charged in connection with Aaron Hobson's death, two others have pleaded guilty, according to court records; the next defendant who will appear in court is Patrick Rashod Marshall, 19. He also pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 19.