First-degree murder case moves forward in Kandiyohi County, Minn., after Huber's defense motions denied
WILLMAR -- A district judge has denied a motion to dismiss the grand jury indictment against Timothy John Huber, 46, for his role in the October 2011 shooting death of Timothy Richard Larson in northern Kandiyohi County.
In an order issued Thursday, District Judge Donald M. Spilseth denied both the defense motion to dismiss the grand jury indictment and a motion to suppress evidence obtained in a search of Huber's farm equipment parked on a neighboring property.
A pretrial hearing in the case is scheduled for Dec. 18 in Kandiyohi County District Court.
Larson, 43, of Albertville, was killed Oct. 8, 2011, on his father's rural Belgrade property after a confrontation with Huber and his father, Delbert, apparently stemming in part from the Hubers' farm equipment being parked at the Larson farm.
The Hubers were both indicted on first-degree murder charges, along with second-degree murder. The elder Huber, 82, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in August. He was sentenced in September to 367 months in prison, the maximum allowed sentence for second-degree murder. As part of a plea agreement, the first-degree indictment against Delbert Huber was dismissed.
Timothy Huber faces the possibility of spending life in prison, if he is convicted of first-degree murder. He has been held in the Kandiyohi County Jail on $1 million bail since the day of the shooting.
According to the Department of Corrections website, the elder Huber is in the Minnesota Corrections Facility at Faribault.
The public defense attorneys for Timothy Huber, Carter Greiner and Stephen Ferrazzano, argued that the grand jury indictment should be dismissed because of insufficient admissible evidence to establish probable cause for any of the murder charges. They also argued that the prosecution introduced inadmissible evidence to the grand jury, that the prosecution made improper statements in the closing statement and that the grand jury instructions were insufficient to remedy potential errors. The attorneys also requested the suppression of all evidence from a warrantless search of the Hubers' farm equipment by a Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office detective.
In his order and memorandum, Spilseth ruled that even if the grand jury heard inadmissible or prejudicial evidence, there is still sufficient evidence to establish probable cause in the case, that the prosecutor's closing argument was not inappropriate and that grand jurors were provided more than 15 cautionary instructions during the evidentiary portion of the grand jury proceeding.
Finally, regarding the search of the farm equipment, the judge ruled that while a person can expect a reasonable expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment, Huber did not seek to preserve the farming equipment as private. Rather, Huber did not attempt to conceal or hide the equipment, and he moved the tractors onto the neighbor's property without permission and did not ask the neighbors to take responsibility for the tractors and even left the keys in the ignitions of the tractors. The judge also noted that by complaining to law enforcement that someone had tampered with the tractors, both Hubers were, at the very least, encouraging law enforcement to investigate, thus providing consent to search the equipment. The judge concluded that the detective performed minimal investigation when he checked the oil levels and the viability of the batteries on the tractors, by turning on the lights.