COLUMBIA — The second full day of testimony in the trial of Tony Lewis included dramatic statements from friends of Aaron Hobson and the examination of new evidence from the night the Kansas man was killed.
While Wednesday morning's testimony from Hobson's friends helped establish what happened that night, the evidence presented in the afternoon focused on the testimony of expert witnesses and police officials. Lewis, 27, is being tried for second-degree murder and second-degree robbery in connection with the October 2010 shooting death of Hobson.
One of Hobson's friends, Donquavious Hill, testified that he saw Hobson beaten and held at the trunk of his car by a group of men.
"They were hitting him in the back of the head," Hill said.
Hill testified that he got out of his car to help his friend but ran when he saw a gun being held to Hobson.
"Everything happened fast — too fast," he said.
Dexter Faulk testified that he saw people going through Hobson's pockets as he was being beaten with fists and a pistol.
"They had Aaron bent over the back of the car and they had a gun to his head," Faulk said. "There wasn't much I could do."
Faulk testified that he heard someone shout, and then heard gunshots, at which time he ran from the scene.
Defense attorney Jennifer Bukowsky asked forensic pathologist Carl Christopher Stacy multiple questions during the second half of the day's testimony about the condition of Hobson's head during the autopsy to try to establish whether Hobson was beaten. Stacy said he did not see any evidence of trauma to the victim's head.
Stacy also testified that the bullet entered Hobson's lower left torso, exited of his chest and became lodged in his right forearm. Assistant Boone County Prosecutor Roger Johnson suggested Hobson would have had to have his arms up for these bullet wounds to be possible.
Bukowsky then showed the court a gold ring, bracelet and necklace found on Hobson when he arrived at the hospital. She also showed the court a large sum of cash found in his car. This evidence could suggest that Lewis was not involved in an organized robbery that night. The felony-murder charges against Lewis depend on whether he was involved in robbing Hobson.
Hill, Faulk and Jones were all unable to specifically identify Lewis as being one of the people involved in robbing Hobson.
Firearms experts were also called to the stand to analyze the three handguns currently associated with the case. Johnson asked Columbia Police Department Detective Steve McCormack about the guns. There's a question of whether the three guns were actually involved in the homicide.
Jones testified that he saw Hobson held near the trunk of his car with a gun to his head. He got out of the witness box and demonstrated how Hobson was held by using Johnson as a stand-in for the victim. The jury watched as Jones pushed Johnson forward with his left hand and pretended to hold a gun to his head with his right.
Both Faulk and Jones described the gunman as having dreadlocks and wearing a white T-shirt, which Faulk recognized as being Daron Peal, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and armed criminal action. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
The afternoon session ended with presentation of a video of Lewis' first interrogation by Columbia detectives. In the video, Lewis stated repeatedly that he's not from Columbia and that he didn't know the people who were with him at the Break Time early on Oct. 23, 2010. He said he only knew his cousin, Leo Roland. Lewis said he didn't want to "snitch." He also detailed his activities that night, especially regarding his proximity to Hobson's Chevy.
Lewis suggested that the detectives were only interrogating him because he and his cousin, Leo Roland, were the only ones that got pulled over. As the two detectives in the video interrogated Lewis further, he became visibly agitated, raising his voice and hitting his hand on the table to emphasize his words.
"If you think I shot that man, let's go to jail," Lewis said.
The third day of testimony begins at 8 a.m. Thursday in Boone County Circuit Court.