By Kent Gray
Triplicate staff writer
The man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a shooting death in Klamath last year received the maximum sentence yesterday afternoon.
Jeffrey Merrill Koogler, 51, of Kallispell, Mont., was sentenced to 25 years in prison by Judge Robert Weir.
Koogler admitted shooting Andy Martin, 31, of Santa Rosa, to death on July 25, 2002 because he felt he was in danger for his life. Weir, however, said he didn't believe Koogler felt he acted in self-defense.
"They tried to make it look like Andy made him angry enough to do this, but that didn't happen. He didn't do anything," said Uta Martin, the victim's mother, outside the courtroom. "My son was totally innocent in this."
In her statement to Weir, Uta Martin said her life will never be the same.
"I can't laugh anymore, and I used to laugh. I don't know if I'll ever get that back. If not, I'll have to accept that," she said.
The deceased's brothers and sister and a childhood friend also made statements to the court before sentencing.
"They aren't the actions of a remorseful person," said Andy Martin's sister Roxanne Bailey about Koogler's defense. "If there was one bullet left in the chamber he should have taken that and shot himself. Then I wouldn't have to think about this ever again."
Koogler did not speak in court, but attorney Leroy Davies played a videotape excerpt from the defendant's confession shortly after the shooting. On the tape, a sobbing Koogler said: "He didn't deserve what he got." Davies said this showed Koogler's remorse for the shootings.
In response to the Martin family's positive character references, Davies presented Jessica Cooper of Trinidad. On the witness stand, she said Andy Martin tormented her after a bad breakup.
"He decided he was going to live in my house and terrorize me for as long as he wanted," Cooper said. "It was a horrible, horrible time for me."
Cooper claimed Andy Martin sexually assaulted her and harassed her at work after she got a restraining order against him. "It was the happiest day of my life," she said when she heard about his death.
District Attorney Mike Riese unsuccessfully objected to her statements, telling Weir the case was not about the victim's past.
"Nobody is saying Andy Martin was a saint. And his family here, they're not saying he was a saint," said Riese. "And it's not fair to bash him from birth to death."
Another victim in the shooting was Thomas Pawloski, who testified about the incident last summer.
According to Pawloski and other testimony in court, the shooting was the result of bad feelings the men had for each other while they lived together in Pawloski's Klamath Glen trailer park called Praise Camp.
Pawloski said he met both Koogler and Martin at different times in Eureka, and both were invited to Praise Camp. Koogler was invited because he was out of work and needed a place to live.
After Koogler lived and worked at the camp for approximately a month, Martin arrived and lived on a boat nearby for about three days.
Pawloski and Koogler reportedly got into a fight on July 25. Pawloski either threatened or hit Koogler with a baseball bat while Martin watched. Koogler indicated he felt the two were going to do him harm after the incident.
Koogler retrieved some vodka and a gun from Pawloski's trailer and returned to his own trailer. Martin arrived later and was shot twice in the back. Koogler then went to Pawloski's trailer and shot him once.
The defendant was arrested later that night when he called 911 and reported he had shot two people during a fight.