The jury finds a defendant connected to Mid-Central Educational Cooperative not guilty on all counts. They deliberated for more than five hours before bringing the State v. Hubers trial to a close.
The verdict brought relieved sighs from several members of Hubers’s family who were also present for the reading—as they had been for most of the trial. The case ends on Hubers’s 46th birthday, but also hours after word that her mother in law has passed away.
Hubers elected not to speak to media following the reading, but cheers and laughter could be heard inside the defense’s designated room outside the court. Her attorney Clint Sargent spoke on her behalf.
Hubers was assistant business manager for Mid-Central Educational Cooperative, which administered federal GEAR UP funds to help mostly Native American students prepare for college. Sargent says Hubers wants others to know her biggest disappointment in this whole experience is its effect on the program’s reputation.
“It was a wonderful program. It helped so many people! And that’s the thing she hates most about all of this, is that now GEAR UP is connected to a scandal,” says Sargent.
During closing arguments, Sargent’s defense noted that all charges Hubers faced require evidence of “specific intent.”
“We don’t apply criminal liability for what people should have known," he says. "That’s what the civil law is about. Stephanie didn’t know. And whether the state or anybody else thinks she should have, that’s not the law. Thankfully the jury followed the law.”
Sargent says he’ll let the Attorney General decide how this verdict impacts the next Mid-Central Trial.
South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley—who led the prosecution—was not immediately available for comment. The next Mid-Central Trial is currently slated to begin on October 1st.