COLUMBIA — Darris Arlando Peal tried to break up the fight that led to the fatal shooting of Aaron Hobson, another defendant in the case testified during Peal's sentencing hearing Monday.
Peal was sentenced to 25 years in prison by Boone County Circuit Judge Kevin Crane, despite a request for life in prison submitted by Boone County Chief Prosecutor Dan Knight.
Of the eight men charged in connection to Aaron Hobson's death, four defendants have been sentenced as follows:
- Daron Peal, 24, of St. Louis, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 45 years for second-degree murder and armed criminal action.
- Patrick Marshall, 18, of Columbia, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years for second-degree robbery and armed criminal action.
- Lee Carter, 24, of Columbia, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years for second-degree robbery and armed criminal action. (He pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 12.)
- Anthony Carr, 25, of Columbia pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery and was sentenced to 15 years.
In September, a jury found the defendant, 22, guilty of second-degree murder for his role in Hobson's death.Peal, of St. Louis, is one of eight men charged in the Oct. 23, 2010, incident.
Hobson, who was 22 when he died, was visiting Columbia with friends to see his cousin, Trey Hobson, play in Missouri's Homecoming game. During Peal's trial in September, three eyewitnesses — Sir Paul Jones, Dexter Faulk and Don Hill — testified that they saw Aaron Hobson attacked and robbed by a group of men before he was fatally shot in south Columbia.
During Peal's sentencing hearing, another defendant in the case — Deshon Houston, 21, of Columbia — testified that the gun used in the incident was his. Houston said he used the gun earlier that night to shoot at vehicles in the parking lot of the Peachtree Banquet and Catering Center at 120 E. Nifong Blvd.
Houston testified that a group of individuals including Peal met in the parking lot of the Break Time convenience store at 110 E. Nifong Blvd. Houston said he and Peal noticed Hobson's car pulling into the parking lot and saw Hobson flashing money.
Peal's older brother, Daron Peal, approached Hobson and held him at gunpoint against the trunk of his car. Darris Peal tried to get between his brother and Hobson, Houston testified.
But then the other men in the parking lot jumped Hobson, Houston said.
Hobson was beaten, robbed and eventually shot when he reached the driver's seat of his car.
"We didn't know the shooting was going to happen," Houston said. "Nobody know that was going to happen."
Houston said Hobson did not fight back.
Houston pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery in Hobson's death and is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 13.
Hobson's mother, Rossa Hunt, who has appeared in court several times, wept while she read from a written statement.
"Aaron hadn't done anything to you," Hunt said as she looked at Darris Peal from the witness stand.
Hunt stated her son's death was senseless and that Darris Peal did not deserve parole.
"I just know he'll do it again," she said.
Kevin O'Brien, Darris Peal's defense attorney, recommended a 25-year sentence, noting that his client had attempted to stop the attack and robbery.
"He (Peal) actually pushed his brother off Aaron Hobson, but was not successful" in stopping the attack, O'Brien said. "There's no evidence he was stirring people up."
But Knight said the defendant did not defuse the situation, and that led to Hobson being fatally shot.
Of the remaining defendants, two are awaiting court dates, while three others have proceedings scheduled in the coming months:
- Lee Carter, 24, pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 12.
Leo Roland, 20, is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 12.
- Tony Lewis, 28, is scheduled for a jury trial Jan. 30.