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Butte men sentenced to 40 years in prison for fatal bounty hunt shooting

JAEGER HUBBER.jpg
Posted at 7:29 AM, Jun 21, 2024

BUTTE - Two Butte men both received 60 years in prison with 20 years suspended to the Department of Corrections in connection with a botched bail bond arrest that ended in a fatal shooting.

“At best, you were negligent in your conduct. More appropriately, probably grossly negligent in your conduct that evening,” said District Judge Robert Whelan during the sentencing hearing Thursday.

Jay Hubber and Nicholas Jaeger hugged their family and friends after the judge sentenced both men in the shooting death of William Harris on the evening of Dec. 19, 2021. Harris was shot and killed by Hubber’s assistant Jaeger as the pair were attempting to arrest another man in Harris’ home for jumping bond.

A jury found both men guilty in Harris’ death after a trial in March.

During his sentencing hearing, Hubber admitted he made mistakes the night of the shooting.

“If I could have known that a man would lose his life, I would have never entered the house to make the arrest. I hold myself accountable and take ownership of all my mistakes,” said Hubber.

The prosecution said Hubber’s actions were more than mistakes and sought a harsher sentence of 80 years for homicide and an additional 20 years for aggravated burglary for entering the victim’s home without permission.

“Every Montanan deserves the right to feel safe and has that right whether or not you live on Main Street or you have a mansion on the hill. Bill Harris had the right to feel safe and remain private in his own home and they took that away from him,” said Butte County Attorney Kelli Fivey.

During the trial, Jaeger’s defense argued that their client shot Harris in self defense while Hubber struggled with another man in the home. The prosecution disagreed.

“Nicholas John Jaeger acted purposefully and knowingly when he shot Bill Harris. He shot him twice, in the head and in the chest,” said Assistant County Attorney Ann Shea.

The judge also gave Hubber and Jaeger 20 years each for burglary to be served at the same time as the homicide sentence. Hubber said to the victim’s family he was sorry for Harris’ death, but believes he had the right to enter the home.

“What happened that night was out of my control and if I could have stopped what happened I would have. But I had no clue Bill or Nick had weapons. I’m so sorry,” said Hubber.