fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Woman's parents sought extra charges

For the parents of Kerry Michele Repp, who was murdered a year ago this month, her unborn baby was as much a grandchild to them as their six others.

That death multiplied the pain of losing their daughter.

Ron and JoeAnn Johnson hope state lawmakers will make it a crime to kill a fetus in cases such as their daughter's. Prosecutors would charge two murders instead of one, elevating the crime to aggravated murder, which carries the death penalty.

If you murder a pregnant woman, there should be more to it than the woman, said Ron Johnson.

— Johnson found his daughter dead in her Central Point home on the afternoon of May 4, 2002. The 29-year-old mother of two sons was three months' pregnant with a third child. She had been shot with a handgun.

Repp's husband, former state police trooper Gary Marvin Repp Jr., was arrested and charged with her murder about a week later. He remains in the Jackson County Jail awaiting trial, scheduled for September. If convicted, Repp could face life in prison.

Unaware of Oregon's stance on fetal homicide, the Johnsons wanted prosecutors to file charges on behalf of Kerry's unborn child, only to learn that was impossible. One of Kerry's friends discussed the case with Marc Lucca, a co-worker at the Rogue Valley Mall who now works in the office of state Rep. Gordon Anderson, a Republican from Grants Pass. Anderson and Lucca took the story to Salem.

I was troubled by the amount of pain that had been inflicted on this family, and I was troubled that the law was going to victimize them even further, Lucca said.

After consulting the Johnsons, Anderson introduced the Pregnant Women's Protection Act ' or Kerry's Law ' when the 2003 — Legislature opened. The Johnsons signed their names to the bill, which includes language excluding abortion and stem-cell research, and agreed to speak to lawmakers if the proposal made it out of committee.

Kerry Repp's parents were devastated by the senseless act that took their daughter and grandchild from them, Anderson said. For the law to not recognize that pain only serves to victimize these innocent people again. While some might be comfortable with increasing their grief, I am not.

The Johnsons said they knew the proposed law would meet stiff opposition, particularly from abortion rights advocates, but they vow to reintroduce the bill if it fails.

We didn't want to get into this anti-abortion business, JoeAnn Johnson said, adding that the family is pro-choice, as was Kerry herself.

If everybody's so pro-choice, what about her choice? Ron Johnson asked, surrounded by photos of his daughter and her two sons.

Our daughter made a choice to have a baby, and this choice was taken away by a murderer.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail

Don Jepsen contributed to this story.