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Attorneys make self-defense claim in fatal shooting involving Butte bondsman

Posted at 8:22 AM, Mar 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-06 15:22:18-05

BUTTE — Opening statements were heard Tuesday morning in the fatal shooting trial involving a Butte bondsman in 2021.

The prosecution told the jury in its opening statement that the shooting death of William Harris was the result of an overly aggressive Butte bail bondsman and his assistant. But defense attorneys for the two men said this was justifiable self-defense.

“Get back! Get back. Get the (expletive) back!”

Defense attorney David Maldonado told the jury that’s what his client, Nicholas Jaeger, said to William Harris, III before shooting him the evening of Dec. 19, 2021.

Jaeger was assisting bondsman Jay Hubber in arresting David Sandavol for skipping bail, and the pair went uninvited into Harris’ home on Main Street where Sandavol was staying.

While Hubber struggled with Sandavol, Jaeger ended up shooting Harris with Hubber's gun.

Hubber and Jaeger both face felony charges of aggravated burglary and deliberate homicide.

“William Harris, a homeowner and citizen of this community, was in his home at 815 S. Main, in his bedroom, not knowing it would be his last night alive,” said Deputy County Attorney Kaitlyn Lamb.

The defense claims Jaeger, who is not a trained bondsman, grabbed Hubber’s gun from the bondsman’s holster while he wrestled with Sandavol. He claims he shot Harris who had been kicking Hubber in the head and came after Jaeger with some type of blade in his hand.

“My client was not armed and had no protection. Mr. Hubber had a gun, he had a taser and he had a ballistic vest; that’s what the evidence will show, Nick Jaeger had a hoodie on,” said Maldonado.

Hubber’s attorney Palmer Hoovestal said as a bondsman, his client had the right to enter the home and detain the wanted man.

The trial is expected to continue for about two weeks.