Detective: Man admitted to shooting

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Ted Sullivan
Thursday, January 13, 2011
— The Janesville motorcyclist accused of killing a 30-year-old man after a dispute at a traffic light admitted to pulling the trigger, a detective testified Wednesday.

"He said he didn't mean to shoot anybody," Rock County Sheriff's Detective Darrell Knutson said. "He said he was drunk and that he shot at the car just to scare them."

James Humphrey made the statement after his arrest in the June 4 fatal shooting of Sam Aegerter of Janesville. Humphrey was riding a motorcycle near Five Points intersection when he is suspected of having a confrontation with Aegerter, who was in a Jeep.

Humphrey is charged with first-degree reckless homicide and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety.

A motion hearing was held Wednesday in Rock County Court.

Humphrey's attorney, Robert Junig, asked Judge Kenneth Forbeck to suppress Humphrey's statement as evidence at trial.

He also asked the judge for a change of venue, claiming Humphrey can't get a fair trial in Rock County because of pretrial publicity.

After his arrest a charge of first-degree intentional homicide, Humphrey invoked his rights to remain silent and to have an attorney, Janesville Police Detective Steve Williams testified. The police interview then ended.

Later, Humphrey made phone calls to find an attorney, Williams said. Humphrey talked with an attorney, who advised him not to talk.

Humphrey was then taken to the Rock County Jail, Williams said.

At the jail, Humphrey asked to speak with Knutson, who is the husband of Humphrey's ex-wife and the stepfather to Humphrey's son. The two have known each other for about 15 years, Knutson said.

When the two spoke, Knutson read Humphrey his rights a second time.

This time, Humphrey waived his rights and agreed to speak to Knutson. A video recording of the interview was played in court.

Humphrey asked Knutson to check on his wife. Humphrey said he was terrified for everyone he loves, including his son.

Knutson didn't interrogate Humphrey. Instead, he listened to Humphrey's personal requests related to his family.

After the interview, Knutson walked Humphrey to the jail.

According to Knutson's testimony:

Humphrey began asking Knutson about different homicide charges while they walked to the jail.

Humphrey then asked Knutson, "Can I tell you something?"

Knutson replied, "Sure."

Humphrey then admitted to his involvement in the shooting, claiming he couldn't believe he was arrested on a charge of first-degree intentional homicide.

"If there was a manslaughter charge, I would accept that," Humphrey said to Knutson.

Knutson, visibly emotional while testifying against Humphrey, said he didn't expect Humphrey to make that statement.

"It wasn't an interrogation. I didn't ask any questions," Knutson said. "I was, frankly, in shock at what he told me."

Humphrey's attorney wanted the statement suppressed.

The judge decided that Humphrey's statement would be allowed in the trial. Forbeck said Humphrey initiated the contact with Knutson and knew his rights and waived them.

Forbeck said Humphrey's statement didn't come while under interrogation. He said Humphrey blurted out the statement voluntarily.

Forbeck also ruled against Junig's request for a change of venue, noting news reports in the Gazette and WCLO radio were factual and appropriate. Forbeck said attorneys on both sides could question jurors to judge their fairness.

Humphrey faces up to 60 years in prison on the reckless homicide charge and more than 12 years on the recklessly endangering safety charges. He remains in the Rock County Jail.

He is scheduled to stand trial Feb. 21.

Last updated: 4:05 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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