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Defendant Huddleston will testify in murder trial

Bourne Huddleston said Monday that he plans to testify today in his trial on charges that he killed his wife in 2012 after trying to hire two others to kill her and then initiated another murder-for-hire scheme to kill a witness against him.

Huddleston, 45, told Jackson County Circuit Judge Lorenzo Mejia that he plans to take the stand when his trial resumes at 9 a.m. in Medford.

Huddleston unveiled his decision in a brief and sparsely attended meeting in open court after his defense team wrapped up a day of testimony.

Shortly after Huddleston's declaration Monday, defense attorney Robert Abel told Mejia that Huddleston understands the pros and cons of taking the stand and that he knows he will be cross-examined but made the decision to testify on his own.

Huddleston replied, "Yes, sir," when Mejia asked him whether this was his decision and whether he understood it.

Huddleston faces a suite of felony charges, ranging from murder for allegedly shooting his wife, Kristy Huddleston, to attempted aggravated murder and solicitation of murder and one count of illegal possession of a silencer.

Kristy Huddleston was found dead March 23, 2012, in the couple's Pioneer Road home, and in interviews with police Bourne Huddleston claimed she committed suicide in front of him.

The couple's 10-year-old son testified that he was awakened that morning by a scream before walking out to the hallway, where he saw his father come out of a bedroom with an assault rifle in his hand before going outside. When Huddleston returned, he told his son to go back to bed. But when the son heard Huddleston's car start, he entered the bedroom and discovered his mother on the bed with a gunshot wound to the head.

Huddleston was later found in Eagle Point and police recovered parts of a 9 mm pistol they say was used in the slaying.

When questioned by investigators, Huddleston told them he did not render first aid to his wife, washed her hands as well as his own and threw parts of the gun away after he left the house, testimony shows.

Some of the charges allege that two Jackson County men earlier agreed to take money from Bourne Huddleston to kill Kristy. Still other charges accuse Huddleston of joining with his sister, 44-year-old Genetta Huddleston-Coradetti of Florida, to hire another man to kill one of the original would-be hit men who was cooperating with police and planned to testify against Huddleston, records show.

Forensics consultant Ken Meneely testified Monday afternoon that he can't rule out that Kristy Huddleston committed suicide based on how the evidence was managed and the lack of tests for gunpowder residue and trace metals from the gun on her hands.

Called by the defense, Meneely chided investigators for failing to bag the victim's hands to preserve evidence or do field tests that could have led to evidence supporting Bourne Huddleston's claims.

In cross examination, Meneely admitted that the washing of the hands could have removed gunpowder residue and that aggressive attempts by her son and emergency medical technicians to render her care also could have damaged any evidence on the victim's hands.

Prosecutor Laura Cromwell painted Meneely to the jury as an under-qualified ballistics expert with a puffed-up resume who relied on a computer presentation to the jury that contained misleading slides.

Meneely called the slides "strictly a teaching tool" meant to inform jurors about forensic tests and not to speak directly to forensic evidence against Huddleston.

Kristy Huddleston worked as a nurse care manager for the Department of Veterans Affairs' Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics in White City. She helped returning veterans reintegrate into society following tours of duty.

Bourne Huddleston was in the Marine Corps from 1988 to 2009. He served four tours in the Middle East, including two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He has remained lodged without bail in the Jackson County Jail since he was arrested on the day of his wife's killing.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

Defendant Huddleston will testify in murder trial