NewsCrime Watch


Murder trial begins in fatal shooting case involving Butte bondsman

Posted at 12:08 PM, Mar 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-05 14:08:18-05

BUTTE — The pool of prospective jurors for the homicide trial involving a Butte bondsman was so large they had to use the basketball court at the Maroon Activities Center in Butte in order to conduct the jury selection.

Attorneys spent more than six hours Monday vetting nearly 200 people to sit on the 12-member jury in the murder trial of Butte bondsman Jay Hubber and his assistant, Nicholas Jaeger, both accused in a botched arrest that ended in the shooting death of William Harris, III on Dec. 19, 2021.

According to an attorney not connected to this case, jury selection is a crucial part of a trial.

“A lot of lawyers believe this is actually the most important part of the trial because you could be lost before you start if you don’t get the right jury,” said Butte attorney Brad Belke.

The prosecution is going to have to convince the jury that Hubber and Jaeger committed felony aggravated burglary and deliberate homicide. Hubber, who is a bondsman, had Jaeger assist him in arresting a man accused of jumping bond that December evening in 2021.

The two are accused of entering uninvited the home of Harris at 815 S. Main St. to pick up David Sandavol. While Hubber struggled with Sandavol, Jaeger is accused of fatally shooting Harris with Hubber’s gun.

Belke suspects the jury pool is so large because this is a high-profile case that has received plenty of media coverage.

“I’m seeing a lot of news coverage; in fact, last week when I went to the courthouse there were picketers out front about the case. That’s not good for a fair jury,” said Belke.

During jury selection, attorneys asked potential jurors if they knew anyone involved in the case, including the defendants, and what their opinions were about self-defense and the right to privacy in the home. Belke said this questioning process helps attorneys on both sides find the best jurors.

“You’re looking for people who seem intelligent, who are going to listen to the evidence, who are willing to hear all the facts before they make up their mind,” said Belke.

The jury was eventually picked and opening statements will begin Tuesday in Butte District Court.