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DA: Evidence didn't support kidnap, attempted murder

Jessica Bridges told police she was twice choked into unconsciousness and had her children's lives threatened by her ex-boyfriend, a wanted felon. Tuesday, the Jackson County District Attorney's Office dropped the most serious charges against the man Bridges says terrorized her for months.

"We reviewed the case," said District Attorney Mark Huddleston. "We didn't think there was sufficient evidence to file (attempted murder and kidnapping) charges."

Rogue River police on Sunday arrested and charged Robert Francis Poole, 27, after he fled from Bridges' apartment and led them on a chase through back streets and alleys in the small town. He was taken to the Jackson County Jail where he remained Tuesday on $1.25 million bail.

Bridges told officers Sunday that Poole had been in her apartment for almost two months, hiding from police. Poole made sure he kept either one of her children or a family pet hostage when she went out and threatened to kill them if she did not do as he ordered, Chief Ken Lewis said.

But Poole will not be tried on the two Measure 11 offenses because prosecutors say there is insufficient or no evidence he moved Bridges out of the house or intended to murder her when he choked her, Huddleston said.

Poole still faces a laundry-list of lesser criminal charges — including two counts of fourth-degree felony assault, and misdemeanor charges of fourth-degree assault, strangulation, coercion and disorderly conduct, he said.

Poole, wanted in California on drug charges, faces additional charges of domestic violence and witness tampering stemming from a previous case involving Bridges and her mother, Donna White, filed this spring, court records show.

Records show Bridges in July twice petitioned the court to remove a restraining order against Poole. Judge Tim Barnack refused to sign the order when Bridges failed to show up in court for a hearing on July 13. The no-contact order was lifted on July 26 by Judge Ray White, records state.

A county prosecutor, Eric Dames, declined to comment on whether the DA's office believed Bridges was acting on her own accord when she appeared in court, or if she was compelled by Poole.

Police on Sunday initiated a series of welfare checks on Bridges after White said her daughter had sent her an urgent two word text-message stating "Help me," late Saturday night, said Lewis.

On the third welfare check at 5 p.m., Bridges opened the door. After initially assuring the officers she was fine, Bridges eventually whispered, "Help me. He's in the bathroom," said Lewis.

Bridges and her two children were safely out of the building before police broke open the bathroom door — just in time to see Poole squeeze out the window and hit the ground running, Lewis said.

Numerous residents in the area alerted police to Poole's latest location as he ran through town. Poole eventually was arrested after a brief struggle in which he was struck by Taser darts, said Lewis.

Poole has pleaded not guilty to all charges. A preliminary hearing is slated for Aug. 9.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

DA: Evidence didn't support kidnap, attempted murder