Witnesses testify to seeing Hobson held at gunpoint, shot

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 | 11:06 p.m. CDT; updated 12:03 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 29, 2011

COLUMBIA — Three friends of Aaron Hobson, who was fatally shot in a Break Time convenience store parking lot in October 2010, described in court Wednesday watching their friend get held at gunpoint, attacked and shot.

Of 22 witnesses sworn in Wednesday, the three men — Dexter Faulk, Sir Paul Jones and Don Quavious Hill — were the only eyewitnesses to the crime.

Hobson, 22, of Wichita, Kan., was fatally shot in the parking lot of the East Nifong Break Time in south Columbia on Oct. 23 when a group of men attacked and robbed him after a party.

Darris Arlando Peal, 22, of St. Louis, is being tried on charges of second-degree murder, second-degree criminal action and felonious restraint in the incident. He is one of eight men charged in Hobson’s death.

Defense attorney Kevin O'Brien and Boone County Chief Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight both showed the jury footage from the convenience store surveillance cameras.

Later, Detective Joseph Jackson of the Columbia Police Department testified that he identified Peal and seven other individuals involved in Hobson's murder by looking at the footage.

O'Brien questioned Jackson's ability to identify the men in the footage because Peal was dressed similarly to his brother, Daron Peal, who has already pleaded guilty to the crime.

Although the three eyewitnesses could not identify a shooter, Faulk, Jones and Hill described the events leading up to Hobson's death. They said they were with Hobson in Columbia to watch the Homecoming game in which Hobson’s cousin, Trey Hobson, was playing. 

"We were down there to have a good time," Faulk said.

Faulk testified that he attended a party with Aaron Hobson at the Peachtree Catering and Banquet Center at 120 E. Nifong Blvd.

All three men testified that:

  • Some at the party had been "stunting," described as showing off expensive cars or money.
  • During the party, Aaron Hobson was photographed with dollar bills. Jones added that rather than putting the money away like everyone else, "(Aaron) was taking pictures with (money) in his hands."
  • They did not stay for very long at the party — just an hour or 90 minutes. At some point during socializing and dancing, Hobson lost his phone. The four men decided to meet up at Break Time, Jones said.
  • At the Break Time parking lot, a group of eight to 10 men rushed to Hobson to attack and rob him. Hobson was “basically cooperating, not fighting back,” Faulk said of the attack.
  • The three said the crowd shouted for Hobson to be shot and robbed. When gunshots were fired, the three witnesses said they fled in their cars.

Faulk said when he didn't see Hobson's car leaving, he turned around. When he reached the car, he said he saw Hobson slumped in the front seat and ran inside the convenience store to ask the employees to call for help. When he left the store, Faulk said he flagged down a police officer for assistance.

When asked separately by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Roger Johnson to demonstrate how Hobson was held at gunpoint, Faulk, Jones and Hill all positioned Johnson over a chair with a hand between his shoulders and simulated a gun by holding two fingers against the back of his head.

Columbia Police Detective Steven McCormick was among the 16 law enforcement officials sworn in for testimony. He stated the gunshot wounds Hobson had sustained were located in the chest and forearm. He pulled two shirts with Hobson's dried blood out of an evidence bag to show the jury.

A video of an interrogation of Peal was shown to the jury when Jackson took the witness stand. In the video, Peal said he was present at the incident but not involved.

"I heard gunshots," Peal tells Jackson in the video. "I didn't see anything."

Aaron Hobson’s mother, Rossa Hunt, wiped tears from her eyes as she listened to Wednesday's testimony.

Peal’s older brother, Daron Peal, 23, was also implicated in the crime. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

Patrick Marshall, 18, the youngest of the accused men, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The trial will resume at 8:15 a.m. Thursday in the Boone County Courthouse.

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