Last October 82-year-old Delbert Huber aimed an old rifle at his friend's son and pulled the trigger, ending the life of a man whom everyone should emulate. At Huber's sentencing this week he did everything he could to make the victim, Tim Larson, sound like a dangerous, angry, vengeful bully. Huber said it seemed to start when he told Tim Larson he could no longer hunt on Huber's land near Paynesville unless Larson put a furnace in Larson's father Norman's home near Belgrade. Huber said when Larson refused, he closed the land to Larson for hunting, after which he said Larson started harrasing him and his son Tim Huber. He said Larson would sabotage their tractors, threaten them and other hunters, and even stole money from Tim Huber. Huber said he knew there might be trouble when he and Tim went to Norman Larson's farm on October 8th to take care of Norman's livestock while he was out of town at a wedding, and that's why he brought the rifle. Huber, sitting in a wheelchair, wearing a hearing assist device headphone and sporting a long white beard, also forwarded some theories...that someone else on the farm may have shot and killed Larson, and that Larson stayed on his dad's farm instead of going to a family wedding out of state so he could "do in" the Hubers. I realize defendants have a right to speak before they are sentenced, but Huber's 10 minute ramble was bizarre...he said he was illiterate, even though he ran a tractor repair business for many years. And Norman Larson, who was sitting right in front of me, was shaking his head when Huber was talking about him not having a furnace. After he was done, Tim Larson's sister sarcastically shouted out "We should applaud Delbert for the story he just told!"
Huber's diatribe came after 20 minutes worth of victim's impact statements from family and co-workers of Larson, describing a man who ran marathons to raise money to dig wells in Africa and South America. A man his wife described as the "best father anyone could hope for", and whose death left their 9 and 12 year old sons "lonely, scared and fatherless." A man who taught emotionally disturbed middle schoolers in Albertville, a veteran who never raised his voice, had a strong faith in God, and would give money to poor kids for lunch and help raise money for a child whose shoes were stolen. County Attorney Jenna Fischer broke down as she read some of the many emails sent in tribute to Larson after his death, and she called his death a "tragedy of paramount proportions." She said she's never seen a case where there is such a difference in character between the suspect and the victim. I was left wishing I could have met Larson before his death, but alas, too often we only hear about true heroes after they have made the ultimate sacrifice.