Prosecutors use phone records to make case for double homicide charges against Ligonier man
For about 11 minutes, Eric Hall could have been alone in a Washington Township home where he is accused of killing a couple two years ago, according to Westmoreland County prosecutors.
Through a series of cellphone records, prosecutors attempted to establish that Hall drove from Ligonier, killed Anthony Henderson and Noelle Richards, then fled with one of their telephones.
Phone records indicated no one else linked to the victims was at the home during the 11 minutes when the murders might have occurred, witnesses testified Monday during the sixth day of Hall's first-degree homicide trial.
Hall, 30, of Ligonier is on trial for the Aug. 28, 2011, killings of Henderson and Richards, both 24, who were gunned down in the home they shared in a secluded area.
Prosecutors contend Hall stormed into the house and fired as many as six shots, hitting both Henderson and Richards three times. Henderson also was beaten with a baseball bat, according to the prosecution.
Glenn Bard, a private forensic computer and telephone analyst, testified Hall's cellphone was tracked before the killings in Ligonier and then traveled through Latrobe, toward Washington Township.
Bard said he was able to track where Henderson and Hall were when their phones were used through data taken from cellphone towers and triangulating distances from those signals.
Hall's phone was turned off for more than two hours and was reactivated about 9:23 p.m., about a half-hour after police believe Henderson and Noelle were killed, Bard testified.
“It appeared the phone had been turned off or powered down,” Bard testified.
Henderson received a series of calls and texts while he was in the Washington Township home, the last of which was a message he received at 8:27 p.m., Bard told jurors.
The phone records revealed that Paul Hoover, a roommate of Henderson and Richards, was not at home at 8:38 p.m. when he briefly spoke with Michael DiVencenzo when they arrived at the house to purchase marijuana from Henderson.
DiVencenzo testified last week that he, his brother and another man were attacked by Hall with a baseball bat when they arrived at the house.
After Henderson's death, his telephone was later tracked as it traveled through Delmont and into Greensburg before it was permanently powered down at 9:27 p.m., Bard testified.
Phone records revealed that Hall and Henderson had traded as many as 21 calls or text messages over the previous two days, Bard told jurors.
The prosecution suggested that on the morning after the shootings, Hall drove to a Wal-Mart store outside Latrobe, purchased cleaning supplies and then sanitized his dark-colored Jeep.
Jurors were shown a video that depicted a man who resembled Hall purchasing supplies, then spending more than 16 minutes in the store parking lot as he appeared to clean the vehicle before driving away.
Evidence was presented last week that traces of Henderson's blood were found in the passenger seat of Hall's vehicle.
Detectives previously testified that a half-used bottle of cleanser was found in Hall's Jeep about a week after the killings. That bottle was traced to the Wal-Mart store, according to Alissa Cole, who was the store's manager in 2011.
Although there has been no evidence as to the whereabouts of a suspected murder weapon, the prosecution on Monday attempted to link a gun owned by Hall's parents to the killings.
Josh Finley, Hall's stepbrother, testified that his father purchased a 9 mm Taurus handgun in 2009. That gun has been missing since his father's death in June 2011.
“It was bought for my stepmother (Hall's mother),” Finley testified.
The prosecution contends the shots that killed Henderson and Richards came from a 9 mm handgun.
Cpl. David Burlingame, a state police ballistics expert, testified the bullets and casings found at the scene could have come from a gun similar to the one owned by Hall's stepfather.
“The six cartridges ... had been discharged from the same firearm,” Burlingame testified.
The prosecution could finish its case against Hall when the trial before Westmoreland County Judge Rita Hathaway continues on Tuesday.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.