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'That was not our daughter'

Kerry Repp's parents want the public to know she wasn't as depicted in the murder trial

Breaking a shocked silence after hearing a not-guilty verdict Monday in the murder of his daughter, the father of Kerry Michele Repp said he would accept the jury's decision.

His only wish is that jurors, trial spectators and the public know that his daughter was not all that Gary Marvin Repp Jr.'s defense attorneys made her out to be.

That was not our daughter, said Ron Johnson, who attended every day of the 14-day trial. He said his wife couldn't bear to sit through the proceeding during which defense witnesses bashed their daughter's character.

Johnson said he doesn't dispute that his 29-year-old daughter was pregnant with another man's child or that she liked to spend money. Yet the trial characterization of Kerry Repp was so lopsided, it left an untrue impression of her nature, he said.

She was a marvelous young woman who made a couple of mistakes, Johnson said. ... And she paid for them with her life.

— Neither Gary Repp nor his family returned calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Johnson said he has only gratitude for District Attorney Mark Huddleston and the numerous police investigators who worked the case. Huddleston warned Kerry Repp's family at the case's outset that the prosecution would be difficult, with about an equal chance of a conviction or acquittal, Johnson said.

Everybody concerned needs to get on with their life, Johnson said, adding that he and his wife have no desire to file a civil suit against Repp.

However, Johnson and his wife remain locked in legal limbo over custody of their daughter's oldest son, now 8. The boy lives with the Johnsons but spends several days each week with the family of his father, Shane Deskins.

Deskins, who divorced Kerry Repp in 1996, was killed in a January hit-and-run crash in North Bend. Deskins' wife, Brenda, also has petitioned for custody of her stepson.

Kerry Repp's youngest son, now 6, by Gary Repp Jr., has been living with Repp's brother and sister-in-law since the May 2002 murder.

The fight for Kerry Repp's unborn child also will continue as the Johnsons plan to take a fetal homicide bill to Oregon legislators. Last year, with the Johnsons' help, state Rep. Gordon Anderson, a Republican from Grants Pass, introduced Kerry's Law, which would make killing a pregnant woman a double murder in Oregon.

If you kill a pregnant woman, there's more to it that killing one person, Johnson said.

The bill died in committee, but, undaunted, the Johnsons met with lawmakers again late last year in hopes of passing the Pregnant Women's Protection Act during the next legislative session. The previous draft was written to exclude restrictions on abortion or stem-cell research.

Repp trial observers have lingering questions

Spectators of the February murder trial of Gary Marvin Repp Jr. can only speculate about what issues led jurors to reach a not-guilty verdict Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court.

But several observers said they had lingering questions after hearing the evidence in Kerry Michele Repp's murder, leaving them with reasonable doubt in their own minds. Court officials have not made the jury list public.

Even though I am strongly on the side of (Kerry Repp's parents), I had reasonable doubt, said Colleen Mercer, whose daughter was married to Kerry Repp's first husband, Shane Deskins.

Accepting the prosecution's timeline of approximately seven minutes from Kerry Repp's May 4, 2002, murder ' at the time she made a 9-1-1 call ' to her husband's arrival at a baseball field would have been difficult for the jury, Mercer said. Others agreed.

It is just too implausible that Repp could have killed his wife and cleaned the crime scene without leaving a trace of blood either on himself or anything else he touched that day, said Terri Brumley via e-mail. Brumley said she attended several days of the 14-day trial with her son, who is interested in being a lawyer.

Mercer and Brumley also said they couldn't buy into the belief that Repp, who prosecutors said staged the murder scene to look like a suicide, would first shoot Kerry Repp in the back of the head. Mercer added that she believed the first shot to the back of Kerry Repp's head actually could have taken place many minutes after two previous blasts, allowing the killer more time.

Expert witnesses referred to the shot to the back ofKerry Repp's head as the first one. However, District Attorney Mark Huddleston said Tuesday that the actual testimony never established which of the first three shots was first.

Forensic scientists testifying for the prosecution said Kerry Repp was shot in the back of the head while she was on the line with 9-1-1 at 8:23 a.m. because her blood and teeth were found on the telephone after the shot broke her jaw. A fatal shot to Kerry Repp's heart followed the three shots ' to her chin, the back of her head and her neck.

Brumley said two unidentified fingerprints on the murder weapon ' a Glock handgun ' cast further doubt on the prosecution's case. Other spectators said they believed jurors wanted to see more forensic evidence linking Repp to the crime in order to hand down a conviction.

We want guarantees; we want proof of everything, said Applegate resident Janet Trzop, who said she attended several days of the trial out of personal interest, although she knew neither family involved.

The prosecution hung much of its case on a bloody footprint found near the Repps' bed where Kerry Repp was shot. Spectator Lisa Smith said she didn't know how the jury could explain away the print while Mercer said she believed the jury was simply confused about how the print could have been made without leaving a trail of blood through the house. Experts testifying for the defense repeatedly said the image lacked enough detail to link to Repp.

While Huddleston presented a methodical case, Trzop said she believed the defense detracted from the facts with testimony about the character of Kerry Repp, who was pregnant by another man at the time of her murder.

We get caught up with the idea that she had an affair, and that's the stuff that got (jurors) sidetracked, Trzop said.

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