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Boating death trial comes to close with guilty verdict
Glover verdict brings sigh of relief from family; sentencing set for March 5
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Jeffrey Simon Hubbard is taken into custody Thursday afternoon to await sentencing on homicide by vessel and other charges. The verdict came after an emotional day of closing arguments in the case. - photo by NAT GURLEY

After Marsha Glover thanked the jurors and state’s attorneys, she held her husband in a long embrace. It was an emotional release for the stepmother who said it was a “fight” for justice in the death of her son, Kile Glover.

“This helped. This helped because I do believe our son had something to do with this,” she told the court after Jeffrey Hubbard was found guilty of homicide by vessel. “This was him. This was about him.”

Hubbard was found guilty Thursday of homicide by vessel and the other four charges he faced in Hall County Superior Court stemming from a summer 2012 boat wreck that killed 11-year-old Kile Glover.

Glover died in the July 6, 2012, incident on Lake Lanier, and teen Jordan Shepp, then 15, was seriously injured. Hubbard was also found guilty of serious injury by vessel as well as misdemeanor boating charges including reckless operation of a vessel, unlawful operation of a personal watercraft and boat traffic violation for operating at more than idle speed within 100 feet of a person in the water.

The two children were riding on a raft being pulled by a pontoon boat when Hubbard’s personal watercraft collided with them.

Kile was the son of Ryan Glover, president of Bounce TV. Kile was also the son of Tameka Foster, and was stepson to entertainer Usher.

“It’s unfortunate. It’s a tragedy,” Hubbard’s attorney Jeffery Talley said after the verdict. “It just furthers the tragedy in the case.”

The jury came to its decision after about 90 minutes of deliberation in a case with eight days of testimony.

“That Jeffrey Hubbard was held accountable for his actions — that I’m sure was gratifying for the family,” District Attorney Lee Darragh said.

Kile’s death, as well as the boating deaths of Jake Prince, 9, and Griffin Prince, 13, spurred legislation on boating safety that Darragh said is in line with the lessons from the case.

“People generally should understand that operating a vessel on the lake is an extremely important responsibility, and safety should be paramount even while they’re having fun,” he said.

Marsha Glover said she and her husband have been at the courthouse every day, even if they weren’t seen in the courtroom.

“We’ve been here every day — not present in the courtroom because of whatever tactics employed by the defense to keep my husband out,” she said. “We still showed up every day to fight for justice for our son.”

Hubbard has been on trial since Feb. 10. Closing arguments in the case were given in the morning.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Wanda Vance said Hubbard was reckless throughout the day and at the time of the collision.

“The state is not asking you to convict because it’s sad — and it is sad — but because he was reckless,” she said, her voice colored with emotion.

Several misty-eyed jurors passed around tissues after Vance concluded. Jurors were unavailable for comment after the verdict.

In his closing, Talley asked jurors not to be clouded by the tragedy of the case, and to consider inconsistencies in witness testimony, lack of evidence and the testimony of boating expert Phil Odom, who said Ryan Glover failed to act in a crossing situation on the lake.

Hubbard was taken into custody to be held at the Hall County Jail. Judge Bonnie Oliver will sentence him on March 5.

He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of three years and a 23-year maximum sentence.

Both sides have acknowledged Kile’s death was not malicious or intentional. Vance told Oliver, in anticipation of sentencing, the state was not seeking to make Hubbard out to be a “bad guy.” Marsha Glover said she and her husband have forgiven Hubbard.

“We’re not here for revenge; we’re not here because we dislike you,” she said. “We’re just here for you to be held accountable for your actions.”

Accountability was a characteristic she sought to instill in Kile, of whom she had primary custody since he was age 6. But she will never know how he turned out.

“No sentence will bring my son back,” she said. “The part that hurts more is he has the lessons that I taught him, and I will never be able to see him become a man to see if those lessons stuck.”