Victim hunted their land, widow once baked them bread: Hearing reveals deteriorating relationship before Larson was killed
WILLMAR — Timothy Larson’s widow testified Friday morning that her husband’s relationship with Timothy Huber soured after Huber allowed the Larsons to hunt deer on his father’s land in 2005 and then accused the Larsons of allowing other people to hunt on the property in northern Kandiyohi County.
Debra Larson also said that her husband asked her to make banana bread to bring to Timothy and Delbert Huber’s home because not many people were nice to the Hubers and the Larsons were going to be nice to the Hubers.
Debra Larson was the first of 11 witnesses to testify during a hearing before District Judge Donald M. Spilseth in the first-degree murder case against Timothy Huber, 47, of Paynesville for his role in the October 2011 shooting death of Timothy Larson.
Huber and his father, Delbert, were indicted on first- and second-degree murder charges in the case. Timothy Larson, 43, of Albertville, was killed Oct. 8, 2011, on his father’s rural Belgrade property after a confrontation with the Hubers.
During his August plea hearing in the case, Delbert Huber admitted that he pointed a loaded 303 British Enfield rifle at Larson and pulled the trigger during the confrontation. He claimed during his sentencing hearing in September that his son had nothing to do with the shooting and that Timothy Huber was doing farm chores when the killing happened.
The elder Huber, 82, was sentenced to 367 months in prison, the maximum possible 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 state Department of Corrections website, the elder Huber is in the Minnesota Corrections Facility at Faribault.
Friday’s hearing included testimony about the Hubers’ relationships, both with each other and with other acquaintances, and prior incidents involving the Hubers.
The prosecution seeks to introduce the testimony during Timothy Huber’s jury trial, which is scheduled to begin April 22. Spilseth will consider the information presented Friday, and the attorneys’ arguments about the testimony, and rule on what will be allowed to be presented during the trial.
Under questioning from County Attorney Jenna Fischer, Debra Larson also testified that Timothy Huber made repeated phone calls to their home and was upset about how they were caring and providing for Norman Larson, Timothy Larson’s father.
Timothy Huber wanted the Larsons to buy a corn-burning stove from Huber for Norman Larson’s home. She said Timothy Huber accused her husband of “spending money on a hunting trip instead of taking care of Norman” and that Huber called her family “rich city people who need to figure things out.”
Larson also testified that Huber made several calls per day to their home for a time until her husband contacted the Wright County Sheriff’s Office about the calls.
The testimony Friday included information from law enforcement officers who had contact with the Hubers regarding suspicious activity at the Hubers’ rural Paynesville residence and regarding threats and disputes between the Hubers and their neighbors.
Joe Schmitz, who was a police officer for the city of Paynesville and is now an officer in Sartell, testified that Timothy Huber reported suspicious activity in January 2005. Huber told the officer that he had seen and shot at a person who was running away from the Huber place. The officer could not find any footprints or other evidence that there had been anyone on the place.
“I also told him it wasn’t acceptable to shoot at people,” Schmitz testified.
Schmitz also testified that he mediated a dispute over calves that Delbert Huber and his neighbor, Lucas Bemboom, had raised together. The elder Huber was upset that Bemboom had made an agreement to sell the calves.
When he took the stand, Bemboom testified Delbert went “off the deep end” and was yelling and screaming at him — with a rusty, old gun in his hand — over a difference of $240 in the calf sale.
Bemboom said Timothy Huber stood to the side and didn’t have much to say during the dispute. “I can’t say that I blamed him,” Bemboom said under questioning by defense attorney Carter Greiner, adding that Timothy Huber would have gotten “the rap” afterward if he had said anything against his father.
“I’ve seen Delbert come off the handle,” Bemboom said. “He’s not real friendly to be around.”
The Hubers have a lease agreement with Duininck Inc. that allowed the company to mine gravel from their rural Paynesville property. Lee and Harris Duininck, brothers and owners of the company, both testified during the hearing that Delbert Huber got upset at how the Duininck crews had left rough, impassable ground on their land and had threatened their crew members.
The brothers went to the gravel mining area and attempted to calm Delbert down and address his concerns, Lee Duininck testified, adding that Delbert had threatened to shoot them if things didn’t go the way Huber wanted them to go.
Several employees of the St. Cloud Veterans Administration Medical Center testified that Timothy Huber called the center in July 2011 and threatened them if Delbert Huber wasn’t mailed a refill of his prescription medication.
“He threatened to come to the VA and blow us away,” retired pharmacy technician Marcene Dockendorf testified. She reported the threat to supervisors and the VA police, who had contact with Timothy Huber when he and Delbert came to the hospital a week later for an appointment for Delbert Huber.
VA Police Officer Larry Atkinson testified that he was at Delbert Huber’s appointment to maintain the safety for the facility and staff members as “both the patient and his son had threatened to come to the facility with guns.”