Guilty: Jury convicts Huff of kidnap, murder attempt
Acquittal on a handful of 24 charges; sentencing date set for May
Valdez Star file photo
The scene outside the Huff home during the 2012 standoff with police.
A Valdez jury convicted Nicholas Huff, age 29, on 16 out of 24 charges, including kidnap and attempted murder.
Huff was accused of abducting and then shooting at a former girlfriend in April of 2012, which ended with the defendant shooting himself after a standoff with police.
"It's cool guys" Huff said quietly after the court adjourned while jail staff placed the defendant in shackles in front of supporters. "What can I say?"
The six man, six woman jury acquitted Huff on several of the assault charges, a single charge of coercion, and reckless driving.
Sentencing was set Monday for May 29.
Huff's defense attorney, Michael Horowitz of the public defender's office, argued Thursday during closing arguments that the victim's injuries were not life threatening and suggested that no actual crimes were committed during the incident.
While Horowitz said he could not say what happened, he presented the jury with a theory that the victim voluntarily met with Huff, who happened to have a gun in his possession which accidently fired off; so she voluntarily drove him to his house so he would not commit suicide.
"He was fed up, he was going to kill himself to make her feel bad," Horowitz said.
During the three-week trial, assistant prosecutor Eric Senta painted a much grimmer picture. One of the more damming pieces of evidence presented by the prosecution was a series of video clips that Huff made after the victim had gotten away and was awaiting the arrival of police.
Senta presented the videos to the jury as a kind of video suicide note Thursday during closing arguments before the jury.
"I'm sorry I tried to kill you," Senta said, paraphrasing Huff. "He admits to everything in this case."
Horowitz argued later that the videos revealed nothing about the incident and called the victim a liar.
Senta proved otherwise.
"He knew exactly what he did," Senta said.
Before the victim talked Huff into letting her go, the victim testified that she told Huff that she explain her extensive injuries by claiming to have been in a car wreck.
"I told you I didn't trust you – this is ridiculous," Huff could be seen saying to the computer while awaiting the arrival of police. "I'm not going outside, I'm not going to get arrested."
Later, he showed remorse.
"I can't believe I did that to you," he said into the camera, then regrets letting her go. "I shouldn't have let you leave."
In one three minute clip, Huff points a gun to his own head.
During the trial, the prosecution alleged in April of 2012, Huff hid his car behind a snowbank near a cabin where the victim lived, waiting for her to come home from work. Disguised with a dark coat and a bandana for a mask, Huff approached the victim in her car; she put the car in reverse, hit the gas and that is the first time Huff shot at her. Evidence at the scene revealed the bullet went through the steering column.
Senta said Huff grabbed steering wheel after the car got stuck and he hit the victim "...pistol whipping her with the butt of the gun..." on the face, which is backed up by medical evidence.
He dropped gun because car was rolling back which led to a tussle.
"She testified that she kept trying to open the door," but he kept relocking it with driver controls as he attempted to drive the car onto the highway from her home near the Robe River subdivision.
He shot at her a second time, barely missing her face according to the prosecutor.
"He decides to shoot her in the face," Senta told the jury. "He pulls the trigger a second time."
After what was described as a dangerous drive to Huff's home in Alpine Woods, he assaults her several more times, and threatens to kill both the victim and himself after they watch the Tim Burton movie Corpse Bride and have sex.
Two prewritten suicide notes written by Huff were presented as evidence in the case, one warning anyone outside of the home to not enter the premises because there were bodies inside the house.
After the victim escaped, a Good Samaritan called police after spotting the victim in her car, bloodied and bruised.
Judge Eric Smith, who appeared at the verdict reading telephonically, thanked the prosecutor and defense attorney, also appearing telephonically, for their time.
"It was obviously very difficult" to be in Valdez Smith said about the trial, which was interrupted by a violent wind storm that interrupted court proceedings and caused delays in testimony when air travel was cancelled.
He also thanked the jury for their time and service and released them their duty to not speak about the trial.