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Family of Nicholas Jaeger shocked by guilty verdicts in Butte homicide trial

Posted at 6:40 PM, Mar 15, 2024

BUTTE — After seven days of courtroom testimony, a jury ruled that two men were guilty of killing a man in a botched bounty hunting arrest in 2021. The family of one of the men says they’re still in shock by the verdict, saying their son never meant to hurt anyone.

“My heart hurts because, you know, it hurts for my son, but mostly because 12 jurors got to see testimony I seen over the past two weeks and come to the conclusion that Nick barged into this guy's house to kill him,” Nichalos Jaeger’s father John Jaeger said Friday morning.

Nicholas Jaeger was found guilty of deliberate homicide and bondsman Jay Hubber was found guilty of deliberate homicide by accountability by a 12-member jury Thursday evening.

Both men were also charged with aggravated burglary for illegally entering the home of William Harris on the evening of Dec. 19, 2021, to arrest a man staying in Harris’ home. A struggle ensued and Jaeger shot Harris with Hubber’s gun.

Nicholas Jaeger’s father believes his son took deadly action out of self-defense.

“Things escalated and, you know, this is tragic on so many levels—for Bill Harris, for Nick,” said John Jaeger.

However, prosecutors argued to the jury that Hubber and Jaeger were reckless when they barged into Harris’ home uninvited and ignored Harris’ demands that they leave his house.

“Bill Harris was an innocent victim who was sitting in his own home, who was needlessly and violently killed by the deliberate actions of the two defendants,” Deputy County Attorney Ann Shea told the jury in her closing argument Thursday morning.

John Jaeger believes his son and Hubber found themselves in a dangerous situation and were being attacked by Harris and another man in the home as they tried to apprehend a man wanted for jumping bond.

“He was in fear for his life. John, the testimony all shows that. That’s why I’m so shocked by the verdict,” said John Jaeger.

It took the jury just over five hours of deliberation to issue the guilty verdicts. Hubber and Jaeger were taken to jail directly afterward, and a sentencing hearing will be held after a pre-sentence investigation.

In May 2023, Gov. Greg Gianforte signed HB 62—a bill that was proposed in response to Hubber and Jaeger's case and passed during the 2023 Montana legislative session—into law. The law requires, among other provisions, that bail bondsmen have no felony convictions, a high school diploma, and complete 40 hours of training to be licensed. You can read the full text of the law here: