A Josephine County felon on parole and his girlfriend were arrested Wednesday evening as suspects in a bank robbery that occurred four hours earlier at a Sterling Savings Bank in south Medford.
Detective Sgt. Brent Mak saw a 1991 Hyundai matching the description of a getaway car used in the 2:17 p.m. robbery as the vehicle left the Circle K near Barnett Road and Riverside Avenue at 6:17 p.m.
Mak questioned the vehicle's occupants, Brett Leon Court, 37, and Melissa Jane Fernandez, 36, and arrested them. He also found evidence in the vehicle that allegedly linked them to the robbery, including a Black Bear Diner hat witnesses said the suspected bank robber wore, said Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau.
"That was a pretty crucial piece," Budreau said.
Police allege Court entered the Sterling Savings Bank, which was then empty of customers, approached a teller and said he had a weapon, though no weapon was seen. The robber fled with an undisclosed amount of cash to a nearby alley and got into a car, witnesses told police. Fernandez is suspected of driving the getaway vehicle.
"Having that vehicle information was absolutely crucial. That really made the case," Budreau said.
Police searched the couple's residence in the 300 block of Stewart Avenue, where they found stolen cash and additional evidence, police said. They did not find any weapons, Budreau said.
Court has been convicted of identity theft, second-degree theft and felon in possession of a firearm in Josephine County, court records show. "He's gone to prison a couple times in the last few years for various offenses," Budreau said.
Fernandez does not appear to have any felony convictions in Jackson County, court records show. Both suspects were arraigned on charges of second-degree robbery, a Measure 11 crime, and first-degree theft charges in Jackson County Circuit Court Thursday afternoon. Their initial bail was set at more than $1 million apiece, but then was reduced after their arraignments. Fernandez is held on $50,000 bail, while Court is held on $100,000 bail, according to court records. Both have preliminary hearings scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at email@example.com.