Homicide Investigator Testifies in Ongoing Murder Trial – Defense Questions Tactics

By Jake Romero

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

Hommert and Simpson are both charged with the murder of 24-year-old Lance Barr in October 2020. Hommert faces 13 other charges, half of which are enhancements, as a firearm was involved and he allegedly committed the crimes while he was not in custody before the trial.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Ross released several video clips for court of Hommert’s initial arrest interview with Officer Gerald Moriarty.

The clips showed Officer Moriarty and Hommert chatting, with Moriarty reading Hommert his Miranda rights and the defendant later invoking his right to counsel.

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

During cross-examination, defense attorney Thomas Knutsen focused on police interview strategies, particularly the small talk seen at the start of the video clips.

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

After further and multiple pressing objections from the prosecution, Judge James Cramer urged the defense to move on, saying the conversation before Moriarty read Miranda’s rights was not a violation of rights and – if applicable – spoke about Hommert’s voluntary participation in the interview.

The trial is ongoing.

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