Homicide Investigator Testifies in Ongoing Murder Trial – Defense Questions Tactics

By Jake Romero

OAKLAND, CA — A homicide investigator testified Wednesday morning here at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse/Alameda County Superior Court in the ongoing murder trial of William Hommert, 26, and Trevor Simpson, 21.

Both Hommert and Simpson are charged with murdering 24-year-old Lance Barr in October 2020. Hommert faces 13 other charges, half of which are enhancements, because a firearm was involved and he allegedly committed the felonies while out of custody pretrial.

Deputy District Attorney Robert Ross played multiple video clips for the court of Hommert’s initial arrest interview with Officer Gerald Moriarty.

The clips showed Officer Moriarty and Hommert engaging in small talk, Moriarty reading Hommert his Miranda rights and the accused later invoking his right to counsel.

In one clip, Hommert denies knowing his co-suspect Simpson. The clip then shows Officer Moriarty referring to a text Hommert sent to a friend that says “Trevor is missing” and expresses concern that Simpson had been arrested.

The full interview was not shown, but Moriarty testified that Hommert claimed to have been home the entire night of the murder watching TV with a friend.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Thomas Knutsen focused on police interview strategies, particularly the small talk observed early in the video clips.

Officer Moriarty explained that he asked about Hommert’s personal life prior to reading the Miranda rights because setting a cordial tone makes a subject more comfortable with the process.

After further pressing and multiple sustained objections from the prosecution, Judge James Cramer urged the defense to move on, stating the conversation prior to Moriarty’s reading the Miranda rights was not a rights violation and—if anything—spoke to Hommert’s voluntary participation in the interview.

The trial is ongoing.

About The Author

Jake is a senior at UC Berkeley studying English & Journalism.

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