Attorneys gave opening statements today in the trial for two men accused of fatally shooting PC World editor Rex Farrance, 59, and pistol-whipping his wife during a home-invasion robbery in Pittsburg in 2007. Prosecutor Harold Jewett told jurors that by the end of the case they would be convinced that Montrell Hall, 25, and Darryl Hudson, 27, were guilty of murder, robbery and burglary. Attorneys for Hall and Hudson, however, suggested that a third
man, 27-year-old Tremaine Amos, was the killer. Amos was originally going to be tried with Hall and Hudson, but pleaded guilty last week to voluntary manslaughter, according to court records. Farrance, a senior technical editor at PC World magazine in San Francisco, was killed Jan. 9, 2007, inside his home in the 100 block of Argosy Court. On the night of the attack, Farrance was home with his wife of 26 years, Lenore van Tosh-Farrance, when, shortly after 9 p.m., a group of masked men kicked in the front door, Jewett said. Tosh-Farrance had recently had surgery on her foot and was in bed with her foot elevated when her husband came running into the bedroom, shut the door and started trying to get a gun out of a gun safe. Moments later, at least two of the intruders came into the room and started demanding money. A third man came in shortly after them, Jewett said. One of the men struck Tosh-Farrance on the head with the gun and knocked her to the ground. They tossed the mattress up against the wall and continued to demand money, Jewett said.
Both victims were frantically trying to find an envelope of cash they had hidden, but couldn’t remember where they’d put it, according to Jewett. Rex Farrance was on his knees, possibly because he had also been struck, when one of the men shot him in the chest. The men then took the gun safe, some marijuana and a laptop computer and fled the house. Jewett said the house was most likely targeted because Farrance and his son were growing marijuana in the attic. The marijuana grow reportedly started as a way to treat several mental and physical conditions that Tosh-Farrance suffered from, but police
found more marijuana than what was needed to treat Tosh-Farrance’s ailments. Pittsburg police Lt. Brian Addington said investigators found more
than 100 marijuana plants and several pounds of processed marijuana inside the house. In the first few days of the investigation, police had few leads,
but got a break in the case six days after the murder when Amos’ brother and a friend got into a high-speed chase with police in Sacramento. As they were
fleeing from police, they allegedly threw a gun out the window, Jewett said. The gun turned out to be the murder weapon, Jewett said. Amos’s brother told police he had borrowed the car from Amos and then noticed that there was a gun in it. He said he fled from police because he had his own legal troubles and didn’t want to be caught with a gun. Amos, meanwhile, had been involved in a separate police chase in Sacramento and was in prison in Susanville when police went to talk to him about the Farrance case. At first he denied any involvement, but when investigators lied and told him that Hudson had already implicated him, he gave them a statement, Jewett said. Amos allegedly told police about an address on Harbor Court in Pittsburg where police later found Farrance’s gun safe. He also admitted that they had stolen Farrance’s laptop computer, which investigators hadn’t known was missing, Jewett said. The laptop was recovered about a year later from a man who allegedly bought it from Hudson’s mother, Jewett said. Two of Farrance’s guns were also recovered, one in Oakland and one in Pittsburg. Hudson’s attorney Horace Siino said that there was no evidence that Hudson ever had possession of the gun that killed Farrance. He also suggested that several of the witnesses in the case were unreliable, including one of the main witnesses, who suffers from mental disabilities and substance abuse. Hall’s attorney Daniel Horowitz questioned whether there was enough evidence to prove that Hall was even involved in the murder. He said the evidence seemed to suggest that Amos could have shot Farrance and pistol-whipped his wife. He suggested that Amos’ brother and his friend could have been the men with Amos during the attack instead of Hall and Hudson, which would explain why they fled from police in Sacramento. Horowitz also suggested that an investigator in the Pittsburg Police Department had “shifted things … in a non-objective way” during the
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