The fatal argument might have been over a cigarette, and it could have been because the victim disrespected his longtime girlfriend, who was the shooter's mother.
When Trayvon Rogan, then 24, killed Korta Queary, 41, on May 24, 2019, with one gunshot to the back of his head in a small hallway at the Waterloo Gardens apartments, it set in motion a family tragedy.
During closing arguments Thursday in Superior Court Judge David Zent's courtroom, defense lawyer Nikos Nakos told the jury that Trayvon Rogan committed reckless homicide when he killed Queary.
Prosecutors Tom Chaille and Tesa Helge insisted Rogan committed murder and that was Rogan's intent when he picked up his AK-47, loaded it, released the safety and shot him.
While murder is a Level 1 felony and carries a maximum of 65 years, reckless homicide is a Level 5 felony resulting in a sentence of one to six years and a $10,000 fine.
The jury agreed with the prosecution. After about two hours of deliberation, Rogan was convicted of murder and using a firearm in the commission of an offense where death occurs. He's looking at the possibility of 85 years in prison.
Chaille on Thursday argued Queary was cornered in a hallway and had nowhere to go when Rogan shot him.
“We know he (Rogan) was the right person. Are you kidding me? Over a cigarette? We don't have to prove what it was over and it doesn't have to be premeditated. It can be as instantaneous as successive thoughts,” Chaille told the jury, which started deliberations around 11 a.m. Chaille also said there was no evidence the shooting was an accident.
Rogan panicked and didn't stick around to get Queary help, Chaille said. Rogan hopped into a green Ford Explorer and went to his friend Demetrius Robinson's home, where he admitted to shooting Queary.
Excellent police work led to the gun, which was buried in a backyard, Chaille said. The shell casing that stuck to Queary's clothing matched the gun, Chaille said.
Tionna Rogan witnessed the shooting, along with Shari Rogan, Tionna and Trayvon's mother. Shari Rogan and Queary were in a relationship for over 20 years. Police said there were several other witnesses.
Queary was Tionna Rogan's father, and she asked Trayvon Rogan immediately after the shooting why he shot him, Chaille said.
Tionna Rogan was just 18 when she was shot dead at her home on East Paulding Road on Oct. 10, 2020. Her death is unsolved, but police have a suspect, according to Sgt. Tim Hughes, head of Fort Wayne Police Department's homicide unit. Her uncle David Rogan was critically wounded in the shooting.
Meanwhile, Shari Rogan participated in the cover-up, declaring to one witness “no son of mine is ever going to go to prison,” Chaille said in court. “He was going to go to Texas.”
Nakos reminded the jury that the burden of proof lies with the state and the defendant is presumed innocent.
“I'm not saying he should go out of here free,” Nakos said. “She (Shari Rogan) didn't want her son to go to prison because it was an accident.”
Nakos argued that Indiana requires motorcycle riders to undergo training to ride, but there is no mandated training for civilians with guns. Once the safety is off, the gun could go off with a small bump.
“I'm not telling you everything is all right here. What the hell did he do that for?” Nakos said to emphasize that Trayvon Rogan's intent wasn't to kill Queary. “Homicide is not always a murder.”
Trayvon Rogan's sentencing is set for 10 a.m. Oct. 22.
Charges upgraded in shooting death
John Lloyd Vires, 37, was formally charged Thursday with murder in a shooting death on Franklin Avenue, a statement from the Fort Wayne Police Department said.
William Erhardt, 37, of Fort Wayne was the victim identified by the Allen County coroner. He died about 2 a.m. Wednesday from a gunshot wound to the chest and is the county's 29th homicide, the coroner said.
Vires and Erhardt went to a bar together before getting into some kind of altercation, according to statements Vires gave to detectives at the time of the shooting.
Vires said Erhardt began punching him before he drove Erhardt to his home on Franklin Avenue, went into his bedroom to retrieve his gun and shot Erhardt once before calling police, court documents said.
– Journal Gazette