WHEN THE Daily News interviewed Aaron Rogers about the 2013 murder of his 17-year-old brother, Tremaine, who was shot to death in front of him, Aaron said the boys didn't know the shooters "from a can of peas."
But the jury that decided the fate of Tremaine's killers this week knew the difference between murder and the defendant's pea-brained claims of self-defense. The jury, which deliberated for two days, found defendants Tyreek Hall and Robert Anderson guilty of third-degree murder shortly after 5 p.m. yesterday.
Unfortunately, Aaron was not there to celebrate the conviction of his brother's killers because two months before the trial, he was shot to death just a block from where his brother's life was taken. Aaron's slaying remains unsolved.
Last night, Assistant District Attorney John O'Neil, who had passionately argued for first-degree murder, said he and the family were pleased with the jury's verdict.
According to investigators, prosecutors and Aaron's 2013 interview with the Daily News, Tremaine was an innocent victim who was shot in the back by two adult men who'd come to settle a neighborhood dispute among teenagers.
On July 13, 2013, two friends of the Rogers brothers got into a fight with two other neighborhood boys. Later in the day, the Rogers brothers and their two friends were playing basketball in the driveway of the Rogers' Overbrook house when Hall, 27, and Anderson, 29, approached them and asked to discuss the earlier fight.
O'Neil argued that Hall and Anderson did not get the respect they felt they deserved from the boys, whom they believed were talking "too reckless," so Anderson told Hall to "get busy" and Hall fired seven shots, one of which struck Tremaine in the back and killed him.
The Daily News profiled the killing as part of a package in 2013 about the local boys and men whose slayings were ignored in light of the not-guilty verdict in the slaying of Trayvon Martin that week.
Aaron, then 19, spoke at length about the killing of his brother and best friend.
"My brother is all that I had. Ninety percent of me is gone now," Aaron said. "I look normal. I walk around. But I'm just an empty shell."
Richard Giuliani, Hall's defense attorney, and Jack McMahon, Anderson's lawyer, both argued that Hall shot seven times in self-defense because Aaron pulled out a gun on them that day, although there was never any direct evidence presented to back that theory.
Sentencing for Hall and Anderson is scheduled for May 29.