Belfield man sentenced to 30 years for murderA 43-year-old Belfield man was sentenced to 30 years with the North Dakota Department of Corrections Tuesday in Southwest District Court in Dickinson for the murder of the mother of his child in her Belfield apartment less than two years ago.
By: Betsy Simon, The Dickinson Press
By Betsy Simon
A 43-year-old Belfield man was sentenced to 30 years with the North Dakota Department of Corrections Tuesday in Southwest District Court in Dickinson for the murder of the mother of his child in her Belfield apartment less than two years ago.
Because of a plea agreement, a 30-year cap was placed on Dirk Huber’s sentence for the murder of Nicole Lynn Radebaugh by suffocation in September 2011.
In an address to the court, Huber said he takes responsibility for what happened.
“Words are not sufficient enough,” he said. “Sorry will not do justice in this situation. I am extremely sorry for causing people to hurt so deeply and for taking their daughter, sister and mom away from them.”
Radebaugh was found in her Belfield apartment by law enforcement on Aug. 30, 2011, according to the criminal complaint.
Huber admitted to someone in a phone conversation that he killed Radebaugh, who is the mother of the couple’s junior high-aged child, according to the criminal complaint.
The complaint also states that the couple’s child told law enforcement officials she heard Huber and Radebaugh arguing the day Radebaugh died. The child also told law enforcement Huber said he was sorry he hurt her mother and that he would turn himself in, according to the criminal complaint.
Instead, Huber led numerous law enforcement agencies on a days-long chase through the Badlands before he was apprehended 20 miles north of Medora and west of the Little Missouri River. After his capture, Huber was held in the Southwest Multi-County Correction Center on a $1 million bond.
Stark County State’s Attorney Tom Henning recommended a 30-year sentence at the October change of plea hearing when Huber pleaded guilty to one count of Class AA felony murder.
North Dakota law requires someone charged with a serious offense to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before consideration for parole, meaning Huber will have to serve almost 26 years before he’s eligible for release.
Huber’s attorney, Jay Greenwood, recommended a 30-year sentence with 15 years suspended, or a probation sentence determined by the court.
Henning’s initial offer to the defense was a life sentence, but Greenwood said his client wanted a chance at release.
“A life sentence with an opportunity for parole means that he would have served a minimum of 25 years before he could have been reviewed,” Henning told The Dickinson Press after sentencing.
Henning also said at the hearing that he spoke to law enforcement and Radebaugh’s family, who agreed to the terms over the drama of a trial.
“The family is in reluctant agreement, but this (sentence) takes into account what happens with a life with parole,” he said.
Judge William Herauf said he imposed the maximum sentence allowed by the plea agreement because of the nature of the crime and the fact that someone lost their life, but Herauf will let prison officials determine when Huber is released.
Herauf also had the choice to turn down the deal between the defense and state thereby taking the case to trial.
“As I listened and read through the documents, it’s like we were dealing with two different people — abusive versus a person who is helpful,” he said.
Herauf said he took into account testimony from Dr. Rod Swenson, a board certified neuropsychologist with a private practice in Fargo, who evaluated Huber after his incarceration.
Swenson concluded that Huber’s neurological development changed after he suffered a 55-foot fall at age 16, striking his head.
“No pill will cure this,” Swenson said, adding that treatment from a professional could help, though. “The biggest treatment is to teach patients triggers and get them to prevent situations like this from happening.”
But it is too late for treatment in this case, said Radebaugh’s mother, Ruth.
“Dirk took Nicki away from us. He took her away from so many people,” Ruth said. “Then to just go over there and kill her like that is sad. She tolerated his moods, depression and whatever else he got into.”
Huber’s daughter, Logan, also expressed confusion about Huber’s actions.
“I just don’t get why,” Logan said during testimony Tuesday. “(Radebaugh) was the only person who put up with you. There will never be forgiveness. I can promise you that.”
Since Huber’s incarceration, the Rev. Bob Simons in Dickinson, who does ministry at the jail on Sundays, testified that Huber has turned to God.
“He doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life in prison, but he knows he deserves to,” Simons said. “He did a terrible thing. I know God can and has forgiven him, but no matter the change in Dirk’s life, it will not bring Nicki back.”
Although Huber did not receive the maximum life sentence for murder, Henning said he remembered one person receiving that penalty in Southwest District Court in the last 30 years.
The defendant in that case, John Huber, murdered four people — two in New England and two south of Dickinson — in 1983.
Henning believed he was still incarcerated in Bismarck, but The Dickinson Press could not determine if Dirk Huber and John Huber are related.