Huebsch Sentenced to Time Served
By ALLIE HOSTLER, Two Rivers Tribune
On Wednesday, February 26, traveling judge, Richard Scheuler sentenced Burnt Ranch resident, Donna Huebsch to time served for the killing of 39-year-old Adrian Rael in August of 2012.
Trinity County prosecutor, Mike Harper said that in the 16 months since the homicide, Huebsch had three attorneys working her case. After she hired the fourth, Arcata-based Russell Clanton, a statement she initially gave investigators, resurfaced and she was offered a two-year sentence if she agreed to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter, a lesser charge than murder.
Huebsch’s statement said she shot Rael by accident while she was protecting herself from his unwarranted aggression towards her. Out of fear of retaliation, she initially denied shooting Rael.
After a sloppy initial investigation, Huebsch was questioned by Trinity County Sheriff’s deputies and released.
Days went by and dozens of rumors ran rampant throughout the small Trinity and Humboldt County communities. On the sixth day, Rael’s body was discovered near Huebsch’s home. Although most believed the body belonged to Rael, officials could not immediately identify him. An autopsy was conducted in Yolo County and after a month, doctors confirmed it was in fact Rael.
Locals who found Rael’s body said his corpse was already decomposing and had been found first by animals.
“We always believed that she did in fact shoot Mr. Rael,” Harper said. “But we were uncertain as to what led to the shooting.”
Emotions ran high in the courtroom. Several members of Rael’s family traveled from Colorado to personally address Huebsch.
“You have caused my family great pain and suffering. I hope and pray that someday I can forgive you,” Rael’s mother, Carmel Marines said. “He is no longer here and he took a piece of me with him.”
Rael’s friends and family also sent several victim impact statements to the court for consideration prior to the sentences. But, the statements rang hollow with the court.
“I’ve read all of the victim impact statements,” Scheuler said. “Some say this was cold blooded murder, but of course that’s the opinion of the writer.”
Scheuler said he didn’t have much choice than to follow the recommendation, which was to sentence Huebsch to two years in state prison. Huebsch served 16 months in county jail, but because of good behavior her time was doubled.
Scheuler also denied probation.
Huebsch’s attorney asked that the fines and fees be reduced, however the judge denied the request.
After court, Rael’s mother, Marines, sobbed in the lobby.
“How do you take a life and leave it out there for six days?” she asked. “It’s unfair justice. I strongly believe my son did not get any justice. He’s a human being, just like everybody else, and she just walks out of here like nothing.”
Although Harper told the Two Rivers Tribune in January, that the drug culture Rael and Huebsch were living—the two were formerly friends and Rael would frequently help Huebsch on her property—the family says a toxicology report was not produced during the autopsy process.
“How could the DA assume that my brother may have been using meth if no blood or tissue testing was done to prove this?” Rael’s sister Marie “Antoinette” Ramirez wrote in her victim impact statement. “Was this released to the press to justify the plea bargain?”
Ramirez also questioned her brother’s alleged aggression toward Huebsch. Ramirez said her brother was not known to be violent or aggressive.
“I ask myself the following questions: Why couldn’t she pick up the phone and dial 911 to get help if he was being aggressive? In the time it took her to fetch a shotgun she could have picked up the phone. Why didn’t she call 911 once she had shot my brother? If her story is true why would she hide his body? She said she feared for her life. My brother worked for a legitimate marijuana growing operation. Who did she fear? Why did she lie to the Sheriff stating that she had not seen him? Why did Trinity County assign this case to a volunteer when it was first reported? If it had been assigned and followed up on in the appropriate manner maybe there would have been better evidence collected,” Ramirez wrote.
Trinity County court documents pertaining to the case were not available to view by the Two Rivers Tribune by press time. More information to follow.