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'We were going to die': Butte bondsman recounts violent arrest during homicide trial

HUBBER TESTIFYING.jpg
Posted at 6:19 PM, Mar 12, 2024

BUTTE — A Butte bondsman took the stand in his homicide trial and described to the jury the moments he went through while struggling with a wanted man moments before a fatal shooting.

“Were you afraid?” asked Attorney Palmer Hoovestal.

“Oh, I was terrified, I was scared for my life. We were going to die,” said Jay Hubber on the witness stand Tuesday afternoon.

Hubber, along with his assistant Nicholas Jaeger, are charged with deliberate homicide and aggravated burglary in the shooting death of William Harris on Dec. 19, 2021.

Hubber was trying to arrest David Sandavol, who was inside Harris’s home, for bond jumping. A struggle ensued and Jaeger allegedly shot Harris with Hubber’s gun.

Hubber testified he entered the home with Jaeger and told Sandavol he was under arrest. Sandavol punched Hubber in the face and Hubber shocked him with a Taser. The two wrestled with each other as Hubber tried to handcuff him.

“And what’s David doing?” asked Hoovestal.

“He is fighting, resisting at the highest level,” replied Hubber.

“Was he trying to punch you?” asked Hoovestal.

“He was,” said Hubber.

The incident occurred in a home described as a “trap house,” or a home where illegal drug activity is common. There were at least three other men in the home with Harris, and Hubber said some of them were assaulting him while he tried to arrest Sandavol.

“I was getting kicked in the face by William Harris directly in front of me on the floor. Behind me on the right, I had someone kicking me on the right side,” testified Hubber.

“Did it hurt?” asked Hoovestal.

“Of course, it hurt. Yes,” Hubber said.

Hubber admitted he was legally intoxicated at the time of this incident. Toxicology found cocaine in his system and Hubber admitted he had snorted a small amount of cocaine the evening before the shooting.

The jury has the option to find Hubber guilty of a lesser charge of deliberate homicide by accountability. The case is expected to be handed over to the jury later this week.