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Jury in Timothy Huber murder case retires for night without reaching verdict

WILLMAR — A jury of six men and six women received the Timothy Huber murder case around 2 p.m. Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court, retiring for the night at 10:40 p.m., without reaching a verdict.

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 Timothy Larson, 43, on Oct. 8, 2011, after a confrontation on the Norman Larson property in rural

Belgrade over allegedly stolen money and tractor parts and alleged vandalism of the Hubers’ farm tractors.

The younger Huber is charged under the liability for crimes of another portion of Minnesota law, which says that a person is criminally liable for the crime committed by another if the person “intentionally aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with or otherwise procures the other to commit the crime.”

If convicted of the first-degree premeditated murder charge, Timothy Huber will go to prison for life. His father, now 82, is already serving the maximum sentence of 367 months in prison for second-degree murder, to which he pleaded guilty in August.

According to the Department of Corrections, Delbert Huber is in the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Faribault.

Timothy Huber has been held in the Kandiyohi County Jail since the day of the killing on $1 million bail.

The trial is before District Judge Donald M. Spilseth.

Attorneys in the case presented their closing arguments to the jury Monday morning. County Attorney Jenna 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.

“This is not a ‘who-done-it,’” Fischer said. “Delbert Huber pled guilty to intentional murder. The defendant is equally guilty. Delbert Huber wouldn’t have done it without the defendant.”

Fischer argued that the strained relationship between Timothy Huber and Timothy Larson showed motive, that Timothy Huber’s anger and disdain for Timothy Larson “simmered” for years beginning with Larson allegedly allowing other people to hunt on the Hubers’ land.

The simmering anger, Fischer argued, was refueled when Timothy Larson ordered Timothy Huber and the farm equipment off his father’s place, causing Timothy Huber to tell his father that Larson and his gang were going to do the Hubers in, and that there was money stolen, tractor parts were missing and the tractors were vandalized.

“Huber’s anger has been fueled and is at a fever pitch,” Fischer said. She also noted that after the shooting, there was no surprise or shock by either Huber, because they knew what was going to happen, that Timothy Larson would be shot and killed that morning.

Fischer also argued that Timothy Huber took affirmative actions, telling others not to go to the Larson place, after the killing because he didn’t want them to discover Larson’s body. She also noted that under state law, premeditation can be proven by the actions a defendant takes after the fact to avoid detection of his crime.

“The defendant went on to have just a regular day,” Fischer argued, noting that testimony showed that Timothy Huber sold a junked car, helped hang siding and bought gas, contradictory to his statements to investigators that Delbert Huber had his cell phone, so he couldn’t call law enforcement. Delbert Huber eventually called 911 to report the shooting about 12 hours after it happened. The 911 call was played for the jury on the first day of the trial.

Fischer also noted that no witnesses ever agreed with the public defender’s statements about Timothy Huber being slow-minded or having mild mental retardation. Rather, Fischer argued, Timothy Huber had a reputation of being able to fix tractors and farm equipment, especially Belarus tractors.

Ferrazzano argued that Timothy Huber didn’t plan Larson’s murder with his father and that Delbert Huber only formed the intent to kill Larson after the confrontation between Larson and the elder Huber.

“(Timothy Huber) was not there when his father decided to kill Timothy Larson,” Ferrazzano argued. “He was doing what Norman Larson was depending on him to do, the chores.”

Fischer argued that the father and son made a plan at their rural Paynesville residence, including oiling the British 303 gun and packing soft-point ammunition that fragments and explodes on impact, before they traveled to the Larson place that morning.

“If their intent was to scare Tim Larson, why did they oil the gun? Why bring ammunition at all? Fischer asked. “Going to do the chores was a pretext. They went to the fight. They went to seek it out.”

As for his client’s actions after the murder, Ferrazzano explained that the younger Huber was simply responding as he had all along to Delbert Huber’s actions.

“Timothy Huber is acting the way he’s always acted in the face of the things his father had done,” Ferrazzano said. “His whole life, he’s turned and walked away from the evil things his father has done.”

Fischer argued that Timothy Huber has “gotten a lot of mileage” from being Delbert Huber’s son over the years. “It’s the defendant’s identity that he’s Delbert Huber’s victim,” she said. “It doesn’t work here, he (Timothy Huber) is in control.”

During her rebuttal statement after the defense’s closing arguments, Fischer noted that the Hubers had 12 hours, from the time of the shooting until Delbert Huber called 911, to figure out that the father should make the call to report the crime. Otherwise, Timothy Huber was the likely suspect because he had the previous relationship with Larson, he had motive to kill Larson and had communicated with Larson.

“There wasn’t a connection between Delbert Huber and Timothy Larson before Delbert Huber made that call,” Fischer argued. “There was no motive, the defendant supplied that motive.”

Fischer pointed the jury to the letters Timothy Huber wrote to Norman Larson, Timothy Larson’s father, which Fischer said contain “veiled threats” of people getting killed in hunting accidents.

Ferrazzano argued that his client stopped calling Timothy Larson after Larson called the Wright County Sheriff’s office to report Huber’s harassing phone calls in December 2008. “There were no threats of violence in the letters or the phone messages,” Ferrazzano argued, noting that the phone messages end with “have a nice day” and “thank you” statements.

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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