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UPDATED: Timothy Huber pleads guilty to second-degree murder in 2011 shooting death of teacher

WILLMAR - The Paynesville man who was granted a new trial in the 2011 shooting death of Timothy Larson pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder while committing a felony.

timothy huber custody mug
timothy huber custody mug

WILLMAR – The Paynesville man who was granted a new trial in the 2011 shooting death of Timothy Larson pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder while committing a felony.

Timothy John Huber, 50, was sentenced to 150 months – 12½ years – and will receive credit for nearly five years served. A second charge -- second-degree murder with intent -- was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

“I would just like to say my deepest sympathy to the Norman Richard Larson family,” Huber said in court, wearing large glasses and jail garb, his long beard cut short. Norman Larson is Timothy Larson’s father.

Huber has been in custody, most recently in the Kandiyohi County Jail, since his arrest on Oct. 8, 2011, the day of the fatal shooting.

He was convicted by a jury in 2013 of second-degree murder with intent and second-degree murder while committing a felony in connection with the 2011 murder.

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Huber's father, Delbert, shot and killed Timothy Larson, a 43-year-old Albertville teacher, during a confrontation on Larson family property in rural Belgrade.

Delbert pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and died in prison two years ago.

Timothy Huber was allegedly with his father at the farm. He was convicted by way of the "liability for crimes of another" portion of Minnesota law.

This spring, Timothy Huber's 2013 conviction was overturned by the Minnesota Supreme Court, who ruled the jury had been given incorrect instructions in the original trial.

Until Friday’s plea agreement, which was signed Sept. 27, the case had been proceeding to a new jury trial, set for late October.

But the prosecution was concerned about the possibility the case could again be overturned on appeal were Huber to be convicted by a jury again.

“We think that possibility was stronger seeing how the Supreme Court viewed the evidence as entirely circumstantial and not overwhelming,” Kandiyohi County Attorney Shane Baker said after the Friday hearing.

That led the prosecution to serious talks with the defense about a plea agreement.

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Baker said they also wanted to be sure Huber would still serve a substantial amount of time in prison, and not risk the chance he could be found not guilty and then released.

If Huber were to appeal again after Friday, it would be unlikely he would succeed because he voluntarily pleaded guilty, Baker said.

“The odds of prevailing are greatly diminished,” he said.

The 150-month sentence falls into the state sentencing guidelines for conviction of second-degree murder while committing a felony.

Ultimately, Huber will be serving less than half the prison time of his original sentence on the now-overturned conviction.

Huber’s Friday plea was an Alford plea. That means Huber did not have to admit to any wrongdoing – just admit that a jury would have been likely to convict him of the crime given all of the evidence against him.

In court, Baker went through the evidence of the case that the prosecution would have used against Huber at trial. He attempted to ask Huber questions, but Huber did not answer many directly.

To one question, Huber interjected with the date of his father’s death, unrelated to what Baker had asked.

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Huber’s attorney, Carter Greiner, repeated Baker's question to Huber.

The hearing lasted nearly two hours. Huber asked for several court recesses to speak with his attorney – one immediately after he formally submitted his plea.

Huber gave a statement in which he expressed sympathy for what had happened. He rambled about each member of the Larson family and their lives in detail.

Judge Donald Spilseth, presiding at the hearing, cut him off at one point.

“Them kids always had love in their heart,” Huber said. “I just wish them the best that they can ever have in their lives.”

Before the previous trial, Huber was evaluated and found competent to proceed. At his 2013 sentencing, his attorney had argued that Huber’s low IQ called for a lesser sentence.

Competency was not brought up this time.

“I’m sure his attorney would have raised that issue, if there would have been any concerns about competency,” Baker said after the hearing.

Tim Larson’s wife, Deb, did not attend the hearing. Baker told the court she had requested that both the plea hearing and sentencing take place Friday.

Kandiyohi County Victim Services Coordinator Jen Hovland read Deb Larson’s statement to the court.

It included letters to Deb Larson from friends, family, co-workers and students of Tim Larson.

“Your husband was the best man I’ve ever met,” one read. Another said, “Mr. Larson wasn’t just a teacher. He was a friend to everyone.”

Deb Larson’s statement also spoke directly to Huber. Huber’s defense had been that he did not know his father would kill Tim Larson.

“You harassed Mr. Larson for many years. ... You knew your father. You knew what his intentions were,” she said. “Your thinking and actions are twisted, evil and inhumane.”

The statement also expressed discomfort that Huber’s first conviction had been appealed and overturned.

“Do the fatherless and widowed get an appeal? Do the friends and family get an appeal?” she said.

As part of his sentence, Huber will also have to pay the rest of the $42,932 in restitution he was ordered to pay back in 2013.

“I’ve worked with Mr. Huber for years,” Greiner said in court before the hearing’s close. “I do believe he is extremely sorry for what happened.”

Greiner declined a request to comment further after the hearing Friday.

Judge Spilseth did not have many parting words for Huber, other than wishing him successful rehabilitation in prison.

“This was a very tragic incident, it was so unnecessary,” Spilseth said. “I hope you think about that during your time in prison.”

Related Topics: PAYNESVILLEKANDIYOHI COUNTY
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