Gear Up Trial: Hubers Friendship with Westerhuis Family Detailed in Undercover Audio
In the third day of the trial of Stepahnie Hubers verses the State of South Dakota, audio was played to the jurors, along with a written transcript. The audio came from two separate incidents, one where Hubers knew she was being recorded by South Dakota DCI agents at the Mid Central Educational Cooperative Office 13 days after the Westerhus' family deaths, and another where she was not informed of the recording in her home five months later.
The audio ran through various experiences Hubers had with the Westerhuis family and her work for them through several organizations under the direction of Scott and Nicole Westerhuis.
Hubers claims she was not aware of all seven organizations or corporations that had been formed by Scott Westerhuis. Her discovery of at least one of them, Chita Corporation, came shortly after the death, suicide and burning of the Westerhuis home in Platte, when Hubers was walking on the newly charred yard and saw business cards for organizations she had not heard of, with Scott Westerhuis's name on them.
Describing herself as an employee, Hubers said she was the "Ideal, ignorant employee" who did what Scott or Nicole Westerhuis did without question, despite the times she wondered how they could afford certain purchases. A host of other people were hired privately by Westerhuis to pick up items Westerhuis purchased, according to Hubers. Her father was a long distance driver for Scott Westerhuis who had purchased a car in Michigan, flew Hubers father to pick it up and drive it back, paying $1,000 for the errand.
The Westerhuis and Hubers families shared what was described as a friendship, going to staff meetings together at Disneyworld, with spouses and children along. "We were a family, we were a posse" said Hubers in the audio. Memories of enjoying family times on a large pontoon style boat and grilling out were relayed to the agents, who recorded the audio on what sounded to be muffled by fabric rubbing against the microphone's surface.
The prosecutor for the state, under the direction of Attorney General Marty Jackley questioned DCI agent Brett Spencer, one of approximately eight agents on the Westehuis case, regarding Hubers being paid $10,000 annually for research. Spencer said they did not find any evidence of research being submitted to Westerhuis, who allegedly had contracted for Huber to do the research after hours on her phone while watching television at night. Marty Jackley asked Spencer if he could find justification to receive $55,000 in extra income. Spencer replied, "Legitimate reasons? No sir."
Defense Attorney Clint Sargent confirmed with Spencer that all payments made to Huber were paid via check, signed by Scott Westerhuis, indicating that the money was paid to Hubers with full knowledge of Westerhuis. Sargent also asked numerous questions about being a paid employee verses a contract worker. Hubers claimed she had received part of the income as a contract worker and received at 1099 for that work, rather than a W2.
Hubers did recall the numerous times they had outings and events with Native American Children, which was to be the main purpose of Gear Up, and the many organizations also formed. Hubers described her entire family being active in those events, and the appreciation she developed for another culture due to that interaction.
The trial, which is expected to last about a week, is scheduled to continue Thursday (June 28)