Jury selection is underway for one of three defendants charged in the GEAR UP scandal.
The trial for Stephanie Hubers was moved from Charles Mix County to Minnehaha County, because her attorney argued she wouldn’t be able to get a fair trial in Lake Andes because of pre-trial publicity.
But seating an impartial jury in Sioux Falls is also taking some time.
Stephanie Hubers, who was the assistant business manager at Mid Central Education Co-Op in Platte, is accused of helping Scott and Nicole Westerhuis steal millions of federal dollars in grant money that was supposed to be used for GEAR UP, a program that was supposed to help Native American students go to college.
Hubers is also accused of taking more than $50,000 in payments to keep quiet.
Authorities launched an investigation after Mid-Central business manager Scott Westerhuis killed his wife and children in a murder-suicide back in 2015.
Hubers’ attorney Clint Sargent and Attorney General Marty Jackley have been questioning a pool of about 80 potential jurors Monday asking them how much they know about the case and if they have an opinion about it.
Almost every one of them said they have heard about it from watching news reports on television or reading about it in the paper.
Attorneys asked the potential jurors about their thoughts on moonlighting or holding a “side gig,” working with money, “Monday morning quarterbacking,” and judging a case based on sympathy.
13 potential jurors were dismissed today because they said they had formed an opinion about Hubers and couldn’t presume her innocent.
It’s a high profile case that attorneys on both sides say they could start introducing evidence and calling witnesses by tomorrow morning and have a verdict by Friday.
Two other GEAR UP defendants, Stacy Phelps and Dan Guericke, are scheduled stand trial next month for their roles in the GEAR UP scandal.