Motorcyclist mute to homicide charge

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Ted Sullivan
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
— The motorcyclist suspected of fatally shooting a Janesville man after a dispute at a red light stood mute Wednesday to a felony charge of first-degree reckless homicide.

James M. Humphrey, 44, Janesville, appeared in Rock County Court for an arraignment. Judge Kenneth Forbeck entered a not guilty plea for him.

Humphrey is accused of shooting Sam Aegerter, 30, of Janesville after a confrontation June 4 while both were stopped at Five Points intersection, according to the criminal complaint. Humphrey was riding a motorcycle, and Aegerter was a passenger in a Jeep.

Humphrey appeared in court Wednesday in an orange jailhouse jumpsuit. The courtroom was nearly packed with family and friends supporting Humphrey and Aegerter.

Attorneys have 60 days to file motions in the case. A trial date will be scheduled at a hearing Oct. 12. Meanwhile, attorneys on both sides said they have a tremendous amount of evidence to review in the case.

During the preliminary hearing, Richard T. Hall testified he and Humphrey had alcoholic drinks at four bars that night. He said the Jeep drove by and nearly hit their motorcycles on West Milwaukee Street.

The motorcyclists chased after the Jeep, Hall said. The Jeep stopped at Five Points intersection and words were exchanged.

The motorcyclists chased after the Jeep, then Humphrey shot at the vehicle, Hall said. The bikers fled to Humphrey’s house, where Hall confronted Humphrey.

The two men buried the gun in the yard, Hall said. Humphrey also changed the appearance of his motorcycle.

Hall said he lied to police and helped cover up the crime. He testified he helped bury the gun and dumped ammunition in the Sugar River near Albany.

Police said the gun was never recovered.

When asked by Humphrey’s defense attorney, Hall said he didn’t dispose of the gun during a trip to Dubuque, Iowa, days after the homicide.

Aegerter’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Humphrey, accusing him of being responsible and liable for Aegerter’s death.

Humphrey remains in the Rock County Jail on $1 million bond. If convicted, he faces a maximum 60 years in prison.

Last updated: 2:45 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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