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Supreme Court ruling adds wrinkle to Huber murder case

Delbert Huber1 / 2
Timothy Huber2 / 2

WILLMAR -- A recent Minnesota Supreme Court ruling in an Otter Tail County case has implications for the first-degree murder case against Delbert Huber, 82, of rural Paynesville.

Huber does not have a lawyer to represent him. He was denied a court-appointed public defender in Kandiyohi County District Court and has not hired his own attorney.

The court has appointed stand-by counsel to answer procedural questions for Huber, but not to represent him in the case.

In an order issued Tuesday, District Judge Michael J. Thompson ordered that Huber's standby counsel consult with Huber regarding whether or not Huber wishes to have an evidentiary hearing regarding his forfeiture of legal counsel.

Thompson also ordered that Ramona Lackore, Huber's standby counsel, and the prosecutor meet at 9 a.m. Friday with the judge to determine if Huber has requested a hearing and, if needed, set a date and time for that hearing.

Huber is currently scheduled for an Aug. 9 omnibus hearing and a jury trial to start on Sept. 4.

He and his son, Timothy John Huber, 45, were both indicted on first-degree murder charges for their roles in the Oct. 8, 2011, shooting death of Timothy Richard Larson at a rural Belgrade residence.

Delbert Huber allegedly shot Larson with a 303 British Enfield rifle during a confrontation over the fact that Larson ordered the Hubers and their farm equipment off Larson's father's farm.

Timothy Huber's omnibus hearing, which was cancelled earlier this week, has been rescheduled for Aug. 30 before District Judge Donald M. Spilseth. Timothy Huber has court-appointed defense counsel.

Both Hubers face life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.

In his new order, Thompson cited the July 25 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Jeffrey Arthur Krause, who was convicted of drug and weapons charges when he represented himself in a jury trial. Krause had been appointed a public defense attorney, whom he allegedly threatened.

The Supreme Court remanded the case back to the district court for an evidentiary hearing regarding Krause's forfeiture of counsel, which in his case was forfeited by his misconduct of threatening the attorney.

Thompson's order notes that a hearing was conducted in December on whether Delbert Huber had waived his right to counsel, but at that hearing Huber was not assisted by counsel, was not given the opportunity to call and cross-examine witnesses and was not allowed to present his version of the matter. A new evidentiary hearing would give him those opportunities.

Lackore was appointed by Thompson as standby counsel for Huber in June. Her role is not to represent Huber as an attorney, but to advise him on the courtroom rules, procedures and decorum. However, Thompson's order states that if Huber requests the new evidentiary hearing, Lackore will represent him at that hearing.

The elder Huber has appeared at numerous hearings without an attorney. He's told the court that he and family members were attempting to secure legal counsel, but were not successful in their efforts.

Huber has also made multiple applications for a public defender, the latest on April 16, which have been denied. His first attempt to get a public defender was denied because he owned land in Kandiyohi and Stearns counties.

The 80 acres of Kandiyohi County property was subsequently transferred from Huber's possession, via quitclaim deed, to his relatives. Those relatives, his niece, Cherry DeMarais, and his sister, Elise Wagner, of Howard Lake, and the "fraudulent conveyance" of the land are also part of a wrongful death civil lawsuit filed by Larson's family.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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