All previous posts on Pam Huber's murder here
Huber Sentenced To Life In Prison
KELOLAND TV, SD
EX-POLICE CHIEF GUILTY OF MURDER
December 18, 2008
FORT PIERRE - Jurors convicted a former Highmore police chief of murder Wednesday for shooting his wife last year as their daughter lay in bed next to her, rejecting his claim that it was an accident.
The verdict pleased the victim's family and brought relief to Highmore residents who said the crime created a distressing stigma for the city of 850 in central South Dakota.
"It's been an ugly chapter. It's been a long year, and I think we're glad the trial is over so everyone can move on," said Vikki Day, mayor in Highmore the past four years.
A jury of seven women and five men in Fort Pierre found Ken Huber, 42, guilty of first-degree murder for the Oct. 28, 2007, slaying of Pam Huber, 46.
She was shot once in the forehead and died at a Sioux Falls hospital.
Witnesses said the couple had a rocky marriage. They said he was abusive and was having an affair with the county prosecutor at the time, after cheating at least once before.
Huber will be sentenced Friday to a mandatory life prison sentence without the chance of parole.
His wife was a lifelong resident of Highmore and served as city finance officer. She succeeded her father in that position when he died. She also had a small embroidery business and was involved in many activities.
"When Pam was shot, the town was shocked," Day said.
Day was in court in Fort Pierre, about 50 miles from Highmore.
"I was listening to closing arguments. I disagreed with the defense. We're not an angry town out to get Ken Huber," she said.
Todd Yeaton, a Highmore City Council member, said the quick verdict was fortunate.
"It's over. That's the biggest thing. There's a collective sigh of relief," he said.
Yeaton said the couple's two daughters are living in town with Pam Huber's sister.
Pam Huber's sisters and other relatives hugged and cried after the verdict was read, but they declined to comment.
Assistant Attorney General Robert Mayer said prosecutors were pleased.
"We're just delighted in the result. We're just delighted for Pam. We're just delighted for Pam's family," Mayer said.
He and Assistant Attorney General Patricia DeVaney talked after the verdict with Pam Huber's relatives. "They're very pleased for Pam," Mayer said.
Defense lawyer Mike Butler also declined to comment after the verdict.
Jurors could have found Huber guilty of a lesser charge of murder or manslaughter but opted to convict him of premeditated murder.
Huber told investigators his Glock .40-caliber pistol accidentally fired and struck his wife in the head in their Highmore home.
DeVaney said there is no reasonable chance it was an accident, given Huber's expertise with firearms.
"You know in the pit of your stomach what happened here," she told the jury Wednesday during closing arguments.
DeVaney said Huber was afraid of losing contact with his daughters if the couple divorced.
Butler urged the jury to resist convicting Huber simply because the state introduced evidence of a troubled marriage and possible abuse.
Butler said it made no sense that Huber would shoot his wife when she was on a bed next to one of his daughters. That daughter, Stephanie, 12, testified she and her mother were watching television, and she was awakened by a gunshot.
Evidence was clear throughout the trial that Huber loves his two daughters, Butler said.
"You would have to think Ken Huber decided to execute Stephanie's mother right in front of her eyes, in order to return a guilty verdict," Butler said during closing arguments.
Another defense lawyer, Clint Sargent, said some of the state's scientific evidence raised doubt about whether the shooting could have been intentional. He said handguns such as Huber's sometimes are fired by accident.
The defense called no witnesses after the prosecution rested its case Tuesday.
[POLICE OFFICER INVOLVED PERPETRATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE MURDER SENTENCED]