James Humphrey, 45, of Janesville was a good father, a hard worker and a loyal friend who supported his loved ones, according to statements in court Friday by friends and family.
Sam Aegerter, 30, of Janesville adored his young children, had a big heart and a wide smile that could light up a room, his family members said.
By most accounts, both were good men.
But on June 4, they crossed paths in a dispute at Five Points intersection. Humphrey was riding a motorcycle, and Aegerter was in a Jeep.
Humphrey shot Aegerter twice, ending Aegerter’s life and ruining his own.
The random violence of the homicide made many Janesville residents worry that no one was safe in the city, attorneys said.
Humphrey was sentenced Friday in Rock County Court to 45 years in prison and 10 years extended supervision for first-degree reckless homicide, amounting to what will likely be a life sentence.
The courtroom was packed with people standing in the back. Framed pictures of Aegerter with his kids were displayed. Loved ones wore T-shirts in Aegerter’s memory.
Aegerter’s friends and family cried and clapped when Judge Kenneth Forbeck exceeded the plea agreement that asked for a 20-year prison sentence. Some of Humphrey’s family members abruptly left the courtroom.
Forbeck had to restore order and asked people to quiet down. He said the plea agreement was not in the public’s interest.
“This was a senseless act. It was an intentional act by pointing a gun at a vehicle with human beings in it. It was not an accident,” Forbeck said.
Amanda Aegerter, Sam’s ex-wife and the mother of his two children, said Humphrey is a monster who took away her children’s best friend.
“This man made a conscious decision to destroy a life,” she said.
She said motorcycles now scare her children. She said her son was afraid to go outside and didn’t want to play basketball because his dad wasn’t around. She said Sam had helped coach her son’s teams.
Sam taught her daughter about makeup and painting nails, and her daughter cried because her dad wasn’t at a Christmas concert, she said.
Amanda said both children have had difficulties since their father’s death. Nightmares, sleepless nights and crying plagued her after the slaying.
“Sam was our strength,” Amanda said. “We will never, ever get a chance to complete our family again.”
Charles Aegerter Sr., Sam’s father, was brought into the courtroom wearing handcuffs. He was sentenced April 15 to three years in prison and seven years extended supervision for an Edgerton bank robbery he committed after his son’s death.
Charles asked Humphrey to turn and look at Sam’s love ones, and Humphrey responded, “Yes, sir.”
Charles said the homicide changed his family. He questioned why Humphrey would carry a handgun and shoot an unarmed man.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s murder,” Charles said. “It’s not road rage.”
Deborah Givens, Sam’s mother, said Sam was her first-born child and now every day is a struggle. She said most decent men would walk away from a confrontation.
“He is the scum of the earth,” Givens said of Humphrey. “My son is gone, and I will never see him again.”
Her last memory of Sam is him in a casket.
“This will be with me the rest of my life,” Givens said.
Thomas James Aegerter, Sam’s brother, said Sam was a great father, brother and son. He said Sam was a big part of his life.
“Sam’s life should not have ended so soon,” Thomas said. “The thing about Sam is he was loved by everyone.”
Humphrey’s friends and family testified on his behalf.
Tom Danks, a neighbor, said Humphrey is a “generous, generous, dude.” He described Humphrey as a joy to be around.
“He was just always a good guy,” Danks said. “He would be the guy that every time we saw each other, we’d hug and he’d say, ‘I love you.’”
Val Humphrey, James’ wife, said Humphrey was a good father to his son and stepdaughter. She said he helped his kids pursue their interests such as music. She said James worked hard to support his family.
“He is very caring,” Val said. “He is a very positive person.”
She said James sometimes had a temper, but he is a “very, very good person.” She said he could use help for his short fuse.
James spoke to the court before his sentencing. He said he recognized that he took the life of a loving son and father.
He said he regrets that Sam’s children will never feel their father’s embrace, never have him at their weddings or sporting events and never see the births of their children.
“I don’t have the words to … properly convey my sorrow for the pain that I’ve caused so many people,” James said. “There are not words that can take away one ounce of the heartache I have caused the Aegerter family.”
James said his own family has not been spared because his own children have lost their father. He said his own children would have to live with the shame of knowing their father killed someone.
“I’ve caused such an unimaginable amount of pain for so many,” James said. “It is truly a crushing weight on my soul.”