At Huber trial, testimony from neighbors shows acrimony grew over land issue
WILLMAR — Neighbors to Norman Larson and Delbert and Timothy Huber testified Tuesday afternoon ab-out their dealings with the Hubers and Norman’s son, Timothy, just hours or even minutes before Delbert Huber shot and killed Timothy Larson in October 2011.
Timothy Huber, 47, of rural Paynesville, is standing trial on first- and second-degree murder charges in the case. He and his father, Delbert Huber, were indicted on the charges for killing Larson, 43, on Oct. 8, 2011, after a confrontation over allegedly stolen money and tractor parts and alleged vandalism of the Hubers’ farm tractors. Delbert Huber, 82, is already serving the maximum sentence of 367 months in prison for second-degree murder, to which he pleaded guilty in August.
Charlot Roeder, who lives just north of the Norman Larson farm in rural Belgrade, testified Tuesday in Kandiyohi County District Court that Timothy Huber came to her door the morning of the day of the shooting to apologize about the noise made late the previous evening by the Hubers moving their tractors to the Roeder place.
Roeder remembered the time was 8:15 a.m. when Huber knocked, she said, because she had company coming and was preparing the lunch and getting ready for help with organizing her crafting materials.
Timothy Huber told Roeder that Timothy Larson had ordered the Hubers’ tractors off Norman Larson’s place, Roeder said. She said that she saw a man with gray hair and a beard in a car nearby, and assumed it was Delbert Huber. She said her husband, Walter, had described Delbert for her.
Walter Roeder testified that Delbert Huber was attempting to bale a small parcel of hay on the Roeder property on the day before the shooting. Roeder said that he watched as Timothy Huber attempted to fix a broken drain plug that caused a coolant leak on the tractor. When the son fixed that problem, Delbert Huber attempted to bale the hay, but the large round baler broke and the pair returned to Norman Larson’s place to fix the machinery.
When Timothy Huber was attempting to fix the coolant problem, his father lost his temper and hollered at his son, Roeder said. In response, the son “said nothing and worked harder,” Roeder said. “Delbert knew it all and Timothy was to follow.”
Lucas Bemboom, the neighbor to the Hubers’ rural Paynesville residence, testified that he helped the Hubers move their equipment the night before the shooting and that Timothy Huber was “very angry” about Timothy Larson harassing him.
“I’ve seen him where he’s (Timothy Huber) a little worked up, but never that worked up,” Bemboom said.
Corinne Skogen lives just south of the Norman Larson residence and testified that Tim Larson came to her home on the night before the shooting and asked if he could park his pickup on the yard when he went hunting the next morning. Neither Skogen nor her son, with whom Larson also visited that evening, saw Larson’s pickup the next morning.
Lynn Jennissen, assistant principal at St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West, where Timothy Larson worked as a special education teacher with emotionally and behavioral disturbed students, testified that Larson was the case manager for between 14 to 17 students. That meant that Larson worked out conflicts with the students, with their parents and between teachers at the school.
“He was seen as a person who was very good at working through conflicts,” Jennissen testified.
Kevin Bjork, who lives in the St. Cloud area and is a childhood friend of Timothy Larson, testified that he and Larson were going to meet at the farm the morning of the shooting to prepare deer stands for hunting. Bjork said he did not get Larson’s call to him on the night before because he doesn’t carry his cell phone, and when Bjork attempted to reach Larson in the morning, Larson did not answer his phone.
Bjork testified that he had previously met Timothy Huber and that he had no animosity toward either Timothy or Delbert Huber.
“Were you part of any plan to do violence to the Hubers?” County Attorney Jenna Fischer asked Bjork during questioning. Bjork gave a simple “no” as his reply.
Bjork testified that Timothy Larson had played Timothy Huber’s phone messages for him. Larson said he could deal with the situation, Bjork said, but that if Larson’s family or home were threatened, he would go to the legal authorities.
The first witness of the day Tuesday was Dr. A. Quinn Strobl, chief medical examiner with the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Ramsey. Strobl testified that she determined that Timothy Larson’s death was a homicide caused by a gunshot wound to the left side of his chest area.
The jurors also viewed numerous photographs of Larson’s body and photographs and video footage from the crime scene taken by investigators from the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Strobl testified that full-body X-rays and the autopsy of Larson’s body showed a “snowstorm” effect of bullet fragments in the victim’s left area of his chest, and rib fractures, plus damage to his left lung and lacerations to the spleen and diaphragm. She also noted that Larson’s brain had swelled, due to lack of blood flow.
The entrance wound from the bullet was under Larson’s left arm, meaning that his arm had to have been elevated when he was shot because the arm was not injured, Strobl said. There were two exit wounds, caused by two pieces of the bullet, on his back.
Larson’s body, still clad in camouflage hunting clothing and boots in the photos, had no injuries or abrasions on either of his hands. Testing showed he had no alcohol or drugs in his system, Strobl said.
Based on the wounds to Larson’s body, Strobl was unable to determine the range, or distance, from which he was shot. However, she said Larson suffered from “rapid” blood loss and would have lived for a “maximum of minutes” after being shot.
State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension forensic scientist Myha Le, who was on the crime scene team, testified that their measurements showed that Larson’s body was 30 feet from his pickup truck and 128 feet from the barn on the property.
The BCA photos of Larson’s body showed that his pants pockets had been turned inside out. The BCA team found a shotgun under the back seat of Larson’s extended cab pickup, with shells in a holster attached to the stock, but with no shells in the chamber. They also found his wallet under the seat of the vehicle.
The BCA images show the camper that Larson’s wife earlier testified that her husband had taken to the farm. The camper was parked to the east of the home on the property, which is located to the southeast of the crime scene.
BCA testing, Le testified, did not show DNA evidence of blood on the clothing collected from either of the Hubers and no latent fingerprints were found on the gun used in the crime and found in the Huber residence.
DNA evidence also showed that the prominent DNA on Larson’s wallet was from Larson himself and that both of the Hubers were excluded from contributing to the DNA on the wallet.
The trial continues today before District Judge Donald M. Spilseth in Kandiyohi County District Court. The defense is expected to be presenting its case today and Thursday. There is no court scheduled Friday. The jury is expected to receive the case early next week.
Fischer and assistant county attorneys Dain Olson and Chris Jensen are prosecuting the case. Huber is represented by public defenders Stephen Ferrazzano and Carter Greiner.