Day 2 of 1996 murder trial

January 16, 2008 4:27:27 PM PST
Prosecutors are laying out a timeline that they say supports their case against double murder suspect Peter Hommerson. He is accused of murdering an elderly couple in Barrington a dozen years ago, and then setting fire to their mansion to cover up the crime.

The second day of this trial jurors heard from several witnesses, all of them eying bits and pieces of the day of January 23, 1996, as the state builds its case against Hommerson. Former neighbors of the Lichtmans returned to the area to testify Wednesday.

Kathy Blackmore told jurors she saw a white van near the Lichtmans' garage on the day of the fire. On January 23, 1996, a fire destroyed the Lichtmans' Barrington Hills home. Marvin and Kay Lichtman were found inside, both had been shot. Peter Hommerson is accused of the murders.

Hommerson was commissioned by the Lichtmans to do a glass etching. Hommerson drove a white van at the time. Hommerson left the country and had been living in Mexico for 10 years until Americans visiting recognized from America's Most Wanted.

As jurors watched video of the Lichtmans' home, Blackmore talked of their art collections, including porcelain and bronze sculptures and paintings.

A woman driving by the house also testified Wednesday she saw a white van at the Lichtmans' home. And a former employee of a Budget rent-a-car office testified that Hommerson rented a cargo van the day of the fire and returned it about 5:30. The employee testified that Hommerson was transferring boxes from the rental van to the Hommerson's white van.

All witnesses for the state Wednesday were trying to prove prosecutors' allegation that Hommerson stole valuable art from the Lichtmans and left for Mexico. Meanwhile, Hommerson's defense attorneys argue that Hommerson did not take any stolen art to Mexico. And that there is no significant evidence linking Hommerson to the murders.

The state has a few more witnesses to call including Hommerson's wife. But they may rest their case Thursday. At that time, the defense will start calling its witnesses in defense of Peter Hommerson.