$1 million bond set in killing; more details of shooting revealed
The Rock County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday formally charged James M. Humphrey, 44, of 1473 Marquette St., Janesville, with first-degree reckless homicide, not with first-degree intentional homicide, as police suggested.
Court Commissioner Charles Holznecht set bond for Humphrey at $1 million.
The lesser charge comes with a maximum prison sentence of 60 years, which for Humphrey would amount to life imprisonment, Holznecht noted.
Assistant District Attorney Mary Bricco said the lesser charge is the one prosecutors believe they can prove.
The criminal complaint, meanwhile, revealed for the first time that the case against Humphrey relies heavily on statements from Richard T. Hall, who police say was the motorcyclist who was riding with Humphrey the night of the shooting.
Defense attorney Jack Hoag, who apparently received the case shortly before the hearing, asked for and was granted time to discuss the case with his client. Hoag said he would argue against the bond amount when the hearing continues at 4 p.m. today at the courthouse.
Humphrey appeared in court via video from the Rock County Jail. Wearing glasses, he appeared calm, but his expression suggested emotion when Assistant District Attorney Scott Dirks recommended the $1 million bond.
Hoag said the bond amount is much higher than in similar cases.
“I’ve never heard of such a bond being required,” Hoag said.
Holznecht appeared convinced that the cash bond was needed, mainly because of the nature of the crime and the severity of the punishment.
“The randomness of this act is shocking to this court,” Holznecht said, adding that he could not remember such a shocking case in many decades.
Holznecht said he found the bond amount “quite frankly, low,” but he went along with the prosecution’s recommendation.
The complaint states that Hall denied knowing anything about the shooting when police first questioned him. On Monday, however, Hall contacted police and told them his version of the story.
Hall said he and Humphrey had been at O’Riley & Conway’s Irish Pub, 214 W. Milwaukee St., on Friday night
Hall said they were leaving when a Jeep went by on West Milwaukee Street “in close proximity to where their motorcycles had been parked.”
Hall said Humphrey “took off after the Jeep and shouted something to the occupants of the vehicle,” the complaint states.
As the Jeep and the motorcycles pulled up to red lights at the Five Points intersection, Hall told police, the Jeep’s occupants “were shouting things like ‘f--- you’ and flipping them off.”
Hall said he and Humphrey followed the Jeep down West Court Street, and Hall pulled up to the left side of the Jeep.
“He told the occupants that if they wanted to flip him off, they could do it in person,” the complaint states.
Then, Hall said, he heard a bang and looked behind him and saw Humphrey holding a small silver handgun, which Humphrey pointed at the Jeep’s back seat.
Hall said he was looking for a side street when he heard a second gunshot and he and Humphrey then fled down side streets, eventually returning to Humphrey’s home.
Hall said he asked Humphrey what happened, and Humphrey said “he thought he had shot the guy,” the complaint states.
Hall said Humphrey buried the handgun behind Humphrey’s house.
“Hall stated that Humphrey told him that Hall needed to be with him, and then there could be no witnesses,” the complaint states.
Holznecht said Hall felt threatened by that or a similar statement from Humphrey.
Holznecht ordered that Humphrey, if released, have no contact with Hall or with either of the men who were in the Jeep with the victim, Sam Aegerter, 30, of Janesville.
The Rock County Jail reported that Humphrey remained in custody Tuesday night.
The complaint also gives versions of the story from those in the Jeep, Joshua Hunsbusher and Eric Vold.
Hunsbusher told police he was with Vold and Aegerter at the Time Out Pub & Eatery, 101 E. Milwaukee St., and left that bar to take Aegerter home. Hunsbusher was driving.
Hunsbusher said a motorcyclist with a shaved head and a goatee began “yelling and swearing” at the Jeep’s occupants at the stoplights at the Five Points.
Hunsbusher said the man with the shaved head said “something like ‘we’re going to follow you,’” the complaint states.
Hunsbusher said he responded with something like “good luck, we’re going to Footville,” in an attempt to get the riders to leave them alone.
Hunsbusher said he was in the right lane on West Court Street and looking for a place to turn off to lose the motorcyclists when the bald motorcyclist pulled up next to them holding a small handgun, and he heard a popping sound, and then he heard the bikers turn off.
Only then did Hunsbusher see blood in the back seat, and he pulled over and called 911.
Vold told police that as the Jeep pulled out of a parking spot on West Milwaukee Street, they heard motorcycles, and he believes words were exchanged between Aegerter and the motorcyclists, the complaint states.
Vold said Aegerter and the bikers also exchanged words at the Five Points stop, that the motorcycles followed the Jeep, and that he heard a pop, causing him to duck. He said he heard a second pop before the motorcycles drove off.
The complaint also quotes two different sources who said Hall and Humphrey were at the Time Out that night, but the complaint does not suggest that the Jeep riders and motorcyclists had any interaction there.