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Defendant testifies of wife's 'suicide'

A retired Marine accused of murdering his wife at their Medford home admitted on the stand Tuesday that he was a "coward" for leaving her body with their young son, but claimed she was the one who pulled the trigger.

"I had no intentions of testifying," said Bourne Huddleston, a former gunnery sergeant with the U.S. Marine Corps, adding he later changed his mind and wanted to tell his side of the story. "The state systematically created the story about me."

Huddleston faces charges of murder, attempted aggravated murder, solicitation of murder and illegal possession of a silencer.

His trial in Jackson County Circuit Judge Lorenzo Mejia's courtroom wrapped up with closing statements Tuesday afternoon and the jury is set to begin deliberations this morning.

Huddleston claimed his wife, Kristy Huddleston, killed herself after he closed their bedroom door in the early morning hours of March 23, 2012. He testified he was attempting to wash her hand and cover up the suicide when Kristy leapt up and began to flail around. In a panic, he shoved her back down and fled, leaving his 10-year-old son alone in the home with the body, he said.

"I have prayed every day for (my son's) forgiveness for what I did to him," Huddleston said.

Huddleston said it was finals week at Rogue Community College and that he had awakened early the day before to study, as he was taking a test for an emergency medical technician certification that day. He said he passed the test and then left, texting several people about his success.

"I remember I was really happy," Huddleston said.

He later went to get dinner with Lori Roberts, an RCC nursing student with whom he had become romantically involved. Prosecutors say the two had been making wedding plans and that Huddleston had been pressured to leave Kristy.

Huddleston said he and Kristy had an open marriage and an agreement on how to divorce and divide their belongings if they ever met someone else. He said he spent several nights a week away from home.

Prosecutors said the relationship had gotten tense recently, with both women confronting Huddleston.

Huddleston said he traveled to his Pioneer Road home and laid down for a nap after doing some laundry. Kristy Huddleston awakened him at 8:30 p.m. and told him dinner was downstairs in the kitchen.

Bourne said he then put his son to bed and traveled to Roberts' Eagle Point home for a late-night study session with another classmate. Prosecutors allege Huddleston tried to hire that classmate and his cousin to kill his wife before doing it himself.

Huddleston said he left the study session at one point to retrieve two laptop computers to help with the project.

When he arrived at his Medford home, he said the TV was on upstairs and that their dogs had not been put in the kennel. He said he and his wife argued about whether he should return to the Eagle Point house because of a trip they were set to take later that day.

At about 2:30 a.m., Huddleston said he shut the bedroom door, then heard a gunshot. He said he opened the door and smelled gunpowder. He flipped on a bathroom light and saw Kristy on the bed. When he checked her pulse, he felt nothing, he testified.

He said he wanted to protect her and alter the scene so it didn't look like a suicide. He said he washed her hand, but fled when Kristy sprang up and started running around the bedroom. Huddleston said he pushed her back down on the bed.

"Like a coward, I ran out of the room," Huddleston said. "I ran."

He said he disassembled the gun and threw the weapon's barrel out the window of his truck while en route back to Eagle Point.

Prosecutors allege Huddleston told his classmate and girlfriend to not tell anyone he had left the study group, to which both admitted when interviewed by police.

Jackson County Deputy District Attorney David Hoppe said details in Huddleston's story have continued to change and don't add up, including the fact that a just-certified EMT student did not render aid to his injured wife or call 911. Prosecutors also added that Huddleston did not show any emotion in the first police interview when law enforcement informed him Kristy had died.

Huddleston on Tuesday admitted to lying to police in his first interview with investigators.

"You spent the full first part of the interview lying about what had happened," Hoppe said.

"Yes," Huddleston said, adding he had done it because he was scared.

Prosecution also called on former colleagues of Kristy Huddleston, who testified she never admitted to suicidal thoughts. State medical examiner Dr. James Olson also took the stand a second time, saying Kristy could not have killed herself because there was no searing, soot or powder articles on the skin around the bullet entry.

"We don't have that in this wound," Olson said.

In his closing statement, defense attorney Robert Abel said not enough investigative testing was done at the home following Kristy's death, leaving the possibility of suicide still open. He also added that the crime scene work was handled hastily.

"There are all kinds of things that should have been done at this crime scene," Abel said. "It is extremely possible evidence was missed."

He also revisited the credibility of witnesses called, specifically the two men prosecutors allege Huddleston attempted to hire to kill his wife.

"It is extremely strange that they came forward," he said.

In his closing statement, Hoppe said the lack of evidence pointing toward a suicide is not the problem, but the point. He also pointed out the bravery of Huddleston's son, who tried to save Kristy's life while on the phone with 911 operators.

"He did everything he could to save his mother," Hoppe said.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

Bourne Huddleston, 45, testifies in Jackson County Circuit Court Tuesday during his trial on charges that he killed his wife in 2012. Huddleston claims Kristy Huddleston took her own life.