Washington Township murder suspect says killers passed him in SUV

| Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Eric Hall told a Westmoreland County jury on Tuesday he believes his friends' killer sped past him as he drove up the driveway to their Washington Township home to buy drugs two years ago.

Hall, 30, of Ligonier, who is on trial on two counts of homicide, testified for more than two hours, claiming he stumbled upon the bodies of Anthony Henderson and Noelle Richards, panicked and feared for his life.

Henderson and Richards, both 24, were shot to death on Aug. 28, 2011, in the home they shared. Prosecutors contend Hall fired the fatal shots and beat Henderson with a baseball bat before leaving with his wallet.

“I walked around the couch and there was somebody on the couch. They were in a sitting position, I didn't recognize who it was,” Hall testified. “I could see Tony facedown on the floor beside the couch as well.”

Hall told jurors he drove more than 30 miles from Ligonier to buy marijuana for himself and cocaine for his friend, Jeremy Springer.

Springer testified against Hall earlier on Tuesday.

As he drove up Henderson's driveway, Hall said, a large, silver-colored sport utility vehicle sped past him. After he found the bodies, he saw three men at the door.

“I thought they thought I would recognize them and they came back to kill me,” Hall told the jury. He testified he grabbed a baseball bat and chased the men, hitting two with the bat, before he was able to escape.

Those men testified last week that they had gone to the house to purchase marijuana from Henderson when they were attacked by Hall.

Hall broke down in tears at several points during his testimony, once as he explained how he found the bodies and again toward the end of his questioning from defense attorney Michael DeMatt.

“There was not a thought in my mind about calling the police. I just beat up three guys who I thought killed my friend,” Hall testified.

Hall attempted to explain key parts of the prosecution's case against him, telling jurors he didn't realize he had Henderson's wallet and accidentally dropped it outside his home in Ligonier.

Hall said he threw his bloody clothes and the baseball bat along Route 30 as he drove home. He told jurors he disposed of a 9 mm handgun that police believe was the murder weapon after he borrowed it from his mother as a defense against Henderson's unknown killers.

Hall testified he threw the gun in the trash a day after police searched his home and did not find it. The gun was never recovered.

“Did you kill Tony Henderson?” DeMatt asked.

“No,” Hall replied.

“Did you kill Noelle Richards?”

“No,” Hall said.

The defense showed jurors the gray Nike sneakers Hall said he wore to Henderson's home that night. The prosecution has said a bloody footprint found on Henderson's body likely was left by someone wearing an Adidas shoe.

Springer testified Hall told him a day after the murders that he found the bodies but was reluctant to go to police.

“I asked him to go talk to someone, but he was very nervous and didn't want to,” Springer testified.

Hall will return to the witness stand on Wednesday morning to be cross-examined by prosecutors when the trial reconvenes before Judge Rita Hathaway.

The prosecution completed its case against Hall on Tuesday. The case, which included testimony from 25 witnesses and 220 exhibits, focused on circumstantial evidence that placed Hall at the scene of the murders.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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