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Mom outraged DA dropped attempted murder, kidnapping charges

Donna White is angry that Robert Francis Poole won't face attempted murder and kidnapping charges for domestic violence allegedly perpetrated against her daughter, Jessica Bridges.

Poole strangled her daughter twice until she lost consciousness, White said. She's upset that Jackson County prosecutors did not pursue Measure 11 charges that could have resulted in mandatory prison sentences and put him away for decades.

"Choking somebody out is attempted murder," White said. "This guy is crazy. He's not going to just go away."

Rogue River police on Sunday arrested Poole after responding to White's urgent plea to check on her daughter. Poole, who led officers on a frantic chase through town before being caught, was lodged in the Jackson County Jail Sunday on suspicion of attempted murder, kidnapping and other domestic violence charges.

After reviewing police statements Monday morning, prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to convict Poole on attempted murder and kidnapping. Those charges were replaced by felony charges of coercion and assault, said District Attorney Mark Huddleston.

Rogue River police Chief Ken Lewis defended his officer's initial assessment of the case.

"When all is said and done, a woman was choked into unconsciousness," said Lewis. "You can kill someone by doing that. It happens all the time."

But Lewis also agreed with the decision not to charge Poole with attempted murder and kidnapping.

"Society wouldn't want (law enforcement and prosecutors) in bed with each other," said Lewis. "Ultimately this ends with justice. That's the way it works."

Gerry Sea, coordinator for the Council Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, said it's difficult to prosecute complex domestic violence cases. Many victims don't trust the system. They may recant on previously issued statements out of fear of the abusers or knowledge that there are few long-term protections women can count on, she said.

"It makes perfect sense victims have a hard time testifying," Sea said. "But it is up to the DA to protect society against violence and abuse. And I see a lot of cases being pled out."

Sea hopes Bridges received proper medical attention after the strangulation, which can have "huge medical impacts," she said.

"Attempted murder and severe strangulation go hand in hand with me. This can cause brain damage," Sea said, adding that victims can later succumb to their injuries.

Neither the police nor the prosecutors want to see another victim die, said Lewis. But he added that there can be a "wide discrepancy" between what officers believed happened and what can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.