Two more defendants sentenced in Hobson homicide

Monday, December 12, 2011 | 7:54 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Two men charged in the death of 22-year-old Aaron Hobson — fatally shot at a south Columbia convenience store in October 2010 — were sentenced Monday.

Lee Carter and Leo Roland, both of Columbia, were charged with second-degree robbery and armed criminal action in connection to the incident.

Defendants in Aaron Hobson's death

Of the eight men charged in Aaron Hobson's death last fall, six of them, including Carter and Roland, have been sentenced as follows:

  • Daron Peal, 24, of St. Louis, was sentenced to 45 years.
  • Patrick Marshall, 18, of Columbia, was sentenced to 15 years.
  • Darris Peal (brother to Daron Peal), 22, of St. Louis, was sentenced to 25 years.
  • Anthony Carr, 25, of Columbia, was sentenced to 10 years.

Two of the defendants are awaiting court dates:

  • Tony Lewis, 27, of Columbia, is scheduled for a jury trial on Jan. 30, 2012.
  • Deshon Houston, 21, of Columbia, is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on Feb. 13, 2012.

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Hobson, of Wichita, Kan., died in the parking lot of the Break Time at 110 E. Nifong Blvd., after being attacked, robbed and fatally shot by a group of eight men. He was in Columbia to watch his cousin, Missouri football player Trey Hobson, play in last fall's Homecoming game.

Boone County Circuit Judge Gary Oxenhandler sentenced Carter, 24, to 15 years. He received 12 years for second-degree robbery and three years for armed criminal action to be served consecutively. He pleaded guilty Oct. 5.

Carter testified on Monday that he felt remorse, telling the members of Hobson's family in the courtroom that he was sorry about the circumstances and that he was not aware that Hobson was going to be attacked.

"To the Hobsons, I would just like to say that I'm sorry about my actions," Carter said. "I didn't know he was going to be robbed. I can't imagine what it'd be like if one of mine were taken from me."

Carter's voice cracked while apologizing to the family. Boone County Chief Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight said Carter's role in Hobson's death was significant. Knight said Carter could be seen hitting Hobson on the head with a glass bottle on surveillance video footage.

Carter's defense attorneys, Kathryn Benson and George Batek, said he had taken responsibility for his actions by contacting the Columbia Police Department with information about the shooting, including identifying Daron Peal, of St. Louis, as the shooter.

Knight said Carter was a "pathological liar" for not being truthful when he provided police with the information, since he identified himself as "James" when he called and later met with officers.

After the shooting, both Carter and his fiancee, Krystal Reeves, testified that other men involved in the incident threatened him, including Peal, who was given a 45-year sentence.

Carter broke down in tears when Oxenhandler announced the sentence. Of the defendants who have been in court, Carter is the only one that explicitly apologized and the only one who broke down during sentencing.

Roland, 20, was sentenced to 20 years in prison by Boone County Circuit Judge Kevin Crane. Roland received 15 years for second-degree robbery and five years for armed criminal action.

Roland’s attorney, Michael Byrne, asked that the sentences be served at the same time, for a total of 15 years, instead of 20, but Crane denied the request.

On Oct. 31, Roland pleaded guilty to both charges.

Roland was on parole for 11 days before Hobson's death and had served time for two counts of the unlawful use of a weapon and one count of drug trafficking.

In her statement before the court, Hobson's mother, Rossa Hunt, called Roland a coward who had a choice to walk away, but chose instead to participate in the crime.

"Leo didn't give Aaron a choice," she said.

Both Hunt and Knight said Roland has shown absolutely no remorse.

But attorney Byrne said Roland feels terrible.

"If you visit him in prison, he would tell you that," Byrne said, as he and Roland faced Hobson's family. "He does not feel comfortable expressing that in this arena."

Byrne said Roland did not plan to be involved in the incident, nor did he ever touch or assault Hobson.

Roland turned himself in to police and admitted to taking Hobson's money, Byrne said.

"He wasn't the primary shooter, or one of the assailants," he said. "His role was not that great."

But Hunt said she believed Roland is just as responsible for the death of her son as the man who pulled the trigger.

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