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Murder defendant to get new attorney

An ex-Marine charged with killing his wife will get a new defense attorney for his murder trial coming in the spring.

Bourne Huddleston, 43, faces 10 felony charges related to the alleged murder of his wife, 34-year-old Kristy Huddleston.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Benjamin Bloom on Tuesday granted Huddleston's request to replace Michael Bertholf, a defense attorney who works for the Southern Oregon Public Defenders Inc., and hire a new public attorney.

Huddleston is being held in the Jackson County Jail without bail. He is charged with murder, and two counts each of attempted aggravated murder, solicitation to commit aggravated murder, attempted murder and solicitation to commit murder. He is also charged with possession of a silencer.

Police and Jackson County Fire District No. 5 responded to the Huddleston's rural home at 6645 Pioneer Road after a 911 call reported Kristy Huddleston bleeding at 2:10 a.m. March 23. Police tracked Bourne Huddleston to an Eagle Point residence where he was arrested without incident.

The state maintains Huddleston killed his wife with a single gunshot wound to her head, fired from a firearm equipped with a silencer, after he failed in two attempts to hire two men to perform the murder-for-hire scheme for him, said David Hoppe, deputy district attorney.

The couple's 10-year-old son was in the Pioneer Road home at the time of the shooting and called police.

Huddleston said he did not feel he was "receiving adequate representation" from Bertholf.

Neither Bertholf nor Hoppe disputed Huddleston's request. But Hoppe said the defendant's defense change should not derail Huddleston's May 7 trial date. All evidence will be disclosed to the incoming defense attorney, and a hearing scheduled for April 8 could resolve any pending legal issues, Hoppe said.

"It's important to keep the trial date," Hoppe said.

Bloom said Huddleston will likely be defended by a member of Los Abogados, another consortium of local attorneys that has a contract with the Oregon Office of Public Defense Services.

This is the second time this week that Bertholf's clients have complained about his representation. At a sentencing hearing Monday afternoon before Judge Tim Barnack, Bertholf was surprised to hear his client, Brett Wayne Chancler, complain about his efforts.

Bertholf said he'd known his client for many years and had represented the state against Chancler on child support issues. Chancler was "in the process of changing his life around," Bertholf said, before asking Barnack to allow Chancler to be eligible for prison programs.

Chancler, who had three previous domestic violence convictions involving different women, as well as previous convictions and restraining orders, complained the former prosecutor had not disclosed he'd ever been on the other side of the legal fence. Chancler also complained he was not offered an attractive plea bargain deal by prosecutors.

Both Barnack and Bloom defended Bertholf, saying he is a good attorney.

Bertholf made no statement at Huddleston's brief hearing Tuesday. He did not immediately return calls asking for comment.