Jury Hears First Witnesses in Mid-Central Trial
A jury heard opening arguments in the State v. Hubers case in Sioux Falls on Tuesday. Stephanie Hubers faces charges in connection to Scott and Nicole Westerhuis’s financial management of various education organizations. One of those is Mid-Central Educational Cooperative, where Hubers was assistant business manager.
Hubers has pled not guilty to felony charges of grand theft and alternate charges of receiving stolen property.
Attorney General Marty Jackley is leading the prosecution. During his opening statements he emphasized the close personal friendships between the Hubers and Westerhuis families. He argues the defendant didn’t just know the Westerhuises were stealing money from entities they helped manage, but she participated and benefitted from that theft.
Sioux Falls attorney Clint Sargent is leading the defense. He argues that Hubers only had knowledge of the financial activities for Mid-Central, and not the multiple other organizations where the Westerhuises managed finances. These include the American Indian Institute of Innovation—or AIII.
The prosecution references the fact that Hubers received monthly checks from AIII after filing an invoice to Nicole Westerhuis. It argues she did not perform services to earn that payment. The defense argues she entered the arrangement after her boss Scott Westerhuis claimed it was a way to give her a raise after increasing her regular duties.
The state’s witnesses on Tuesday were two state auditors and two agents with the Department of Criminal Investigation. All were involved in some stage of the investigation that followed the housefire in Platte and deaths of the Westerhuis family. Jurors also heard the first recorded interview between Stephanie Hubers and a DCI agent. It was recorded roughly two weeks after the Westerhuis deaths.
Hubers is cooperative in the interview to the point of being repeatedly reminded by Mid-Central council to only answer the questions at hand.
When asked about her involvement with AIII, Hubers answers “nothing” other than receiving the monthly checks.
The judge called for the evening break shortly after the prosecution resumed questioning the DCI agent who conducted the interview.
The trial picks up with that questioning on Wednesday.