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Mother sues daughter's murderer for $3.25 million

The mother of a woman murdered in 2012 is suing convicted killer Bourne Huddleston for $3.25 million.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed earlier this year is scheduled to go to trial on Dec. 8.

However, Huddleston —  who is serving a sentence of at least 55 years in prison — has asked for an extension of time, citing his difficulties in gathering evidence, contacting witnesses and seeking expert testimony through the mail while a prisoner at the Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario.

Huddleston was found guilty in April 2014 of murdering his wife, Kristy Huddleston.

He shot her at their rural Medford home in 2012, leaving their 10-year-old son alone at home to find her body, according to court testimony.

Kristy Huddleston's parents, Denise and Clifford Esselstyn of Klamath Falls, have been caring for her son since she was shot. He is about to turn 14 years old.

In the lawsuit, Denise Esselstyn said her grandson "has been deprived of the aid, association, support, protection, comfort, care, and society of his mother."

Her grandson has also been deprived of a father's aid and care because Bourne Huddleston was convicted of murder and will be incarcerated for the rest of his life, she said in the lawsuit.

Denise Esselstyn said she, her husband and the boy have suffered non-economic emotional and mental damages in the amount of $500,000. They are seeking economic damages of $750,000 and punitive damages of $2 million.

At the time of her death, Kristy Huddleston was a registered nurse working at the Veteran's Administration Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics in White City with a base annual pay of $86,543. She was also entitled to federal retirement benefits and life insurance, the lawsuit said.

Denise Esselstyn is also arguing Bourne Huddleston is classified as a "slayer" under Oregon law — a designation that could expedite the transfer of Kristy Huddleston's 401k-style federal retirement benefits to her son.

A slayer is a person who, with felonious intent, takes or procures the taking of the life of a decedent, according to an Oregon Revised Statutes section about homicide and beneficiaries of wills, life insurance and other benefits and assets.

During his 2014 trial, Bourne Huddleston testified his wife killed herself and that he had washed her hand in an attempt to cover up the suicide, then fled the home.

But a state medical examiner said she could not have killed herself because there was no searing, soot or powder particles on her skin around the bullet entry point.

Bourne Huddleston was also convicted of trying to arrange murder-for-hire schemes and for possessing a silencer.

In an Oct. 12  written response to the wrongful death lawsuit, he said he was wrongfully convicted and intends to present evidence in the civil trial that was not introduced in his criminal trial.

Bourne Huddleston wrote he intends to appeal his murder conviction. He argued he is innocent and was the victim of prosecutorial misconduct and denial of effective assistance of counsel.

Denise Esselstyn's attorney could not be immediately reached for comment about what assets Bourne Huddleston may have that could be won via the wrongful death lawsuit.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.