Preliminary hearing held for Janesville homicide suspect
Richard T. Hall testified in the preliminary hearing against James M. Humphrey, 44, Janesville, saying he helped bury the murder weapon and dumped ammunition in the Sugar River near Albany.
Hall also said he told investigators he knew nothing about the homicide and later decided to tell his story after hiring an attorney and talking with a childhood friend, who is a Janesville police officer.
Hall was one of two witnesses who testified against Humphrey during a preliminary hearing in Rock County Court. Humphrey is charged with first-degree reckless homicide in the June 4 death of Sam Aegerter, 30, of Janesville. Humphrey was bound over for trial.
Aegerter's friends and family members filled half the courtroom. Many of them cried and wore T-shirts with Aegerter's picture and the words, "You will be greatly missed."
Humphrey appeared in court in an orange jailhouse uniform, glasses and a shaved head. He briefly cried before the hearing started. His friends and family members also were in court.
The homicide happened after a confrontation at the Five Points intersection between the two motorcyclists and three men in a Jeep, Hall said. Humphrey was riding a motorcycle, and Aegerter was a passenger in a Jeep.
In court, defense attorney Robert Junig asked Hall if he was offered immunity in the case, but the question wasn't answered because of a sustained objection.
Junig asked if Hall disposed of the gun in Dubuque, Iowa, after it was buried and later dug up. Hall denied the accusation.
Junig asked Hall if he planned on buying a gun from Humphrey, and Hall said that wasn't true.
Hall said 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 guys in the Jeep started yelling at us, flipping us off," Hall said. "I believe me and Jim yelled something back. I'm not sure what it was."
The motorcyclists followed the Jeep on Court Street, when Hall said he challenged the men to pull over.
"At that same moment, I heard this pop," Hall said. "I ducked down and looked back. I seen Jim holding a silver handgun."
After the first shot was fired, Hall said Humphrey was pointing the gun at the Jeep and yelled at one of the passengers. Hall said the passenger gave Humphrey the middle finger.
Humphrey then fired again.
The bikers fled to Humphrey's house, where Hall confronted Humphrey with what happened.
"I said, 'Jim, What are you doing shooting a gun?'" Hall testified. "He said, 'I think I hit him.'"
"I said, 'You were f——— aiming at him?'"
"He said, 'I just snapped.'"
The two then buried the gun in the yard, Hall said. Humphrey also changed the appearance of his motorcycle.
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.
Humphrey is scheduled to be in court Aug. 11.