A 23-year-old Columbus man will spend at least 18 years in prison for fatally shooting an acquaintance during an argument about license plates.
Brandon L. Hobbs, of Elmreed Drive in Columbus' Northeast Side, was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years, plus three years because he used a gun. The mandatory sentence was imposed by Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Charles Schneider.
In January, a jury convicted Hobbs of murder with a gun specification in the death of 26-year-old Jaron L. Kirkling.
Hobbs admitted that he shot Kirkling on Nov. 11, 2012, in the driveway of a friend’s house at 1799 Huy Rd. in Clinton Township. He testified that he was trying to protect himself and his girlfriend.
Hobbs said he pulled a gun and fired six rounds into Kirkling after Kirkling pulled a gun on him during an argument. But two people who lived at the Huy Road house testified that Kirkling didn’t have a gun.
“There are no winners here today,” said one of the witnesses, Melody Gaston, who was a friend to both the victim and the shooter.
The dispute began when Hobbs sold a Chevrolet Suburban to Kirkling, who failed to change the license plates. Hobbs testified that his frustration grew after he got a speeding citation in October 2012 because Kirkling was caught by a speed camera that photographed the license plate that remained in Hobbs’ name.
Hobbs confronted Kirkling outside the Huy Road house. When he and his girlfriend tried to remove the plates from the SUV, a scuffle began. Hobbs fired after Kirkling pushed his girlfriend.
Hobbs eventually gave police two guns, one of which he said was pulled on him by Kirkling. A defense expert testified that Kirkling’s DNA was on the barrel.
Hobbs offered his “deepest condolences” to Kirkling’s family during a statement in court.
“I truly hate that a life was taken,” he said. “You have every right to be angry with me, but I sincerely ask for your forgiveness.”
By John Futty - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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