Witnesses say they fear manslaughter defendant
Two people who witnessed a deadly motorcycle accident on Interstate 5 in May 2016 testified Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court in the manslaughter trial of Joshua Joseph MacDonald-Pose.
MacDonald-Pose, 34, is charged with first-degree manslaughter and misdemeanor DUII in the death of John J. Soule of Gold Hill — as well as two counts of witness tampering.
The witnesses, Jennifer Bauer and David Jackson, both said they didn’t want to remove their COVID-19 face masks in court because they were afraid of the defendant.
A grand jury indicted MacDonald-Pose in 2017 for allegedly trying to keep them from testifying against him, during a phone call he made from inside the Jackson County Jail.
In court, Deputy District Attorney Nicholas Geil quoted MacDonald-Pose as saying, he “doesn’t think the happy couple is going to show up at trial.”
Jail calls are recorded, Geil explained.
MacDonald-Pose allegedly told the person he called the witnesses’ names, approximate ages, where he believes they live and asked the person on the other end of the line to pass the information along to someone who will “know what to do with it,” Geil said.
Their fear has been “absolute,” Geil said about the couple’s concern for their safety.
The courtroom was cleared for a while after MacDonald-Pose’s lawyer Clayton Lance expressed concern about Bauer as she began testifying by explaining that she was afraid of the defendant.
Lance said that remark was why he didn’t want the witness tampering charges to be combined with those stemming from the accident in the first place. He argued successfully against it last week, but the prosecution tried again Monday and convinced Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Barnack that their consolidation request was valid.
Jackson was being held in the county jail on unrelated charges of identity theft and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle with a bail set at $75,000. Authorities added a witness hold that increased his bail by $500,000 to ensure that he testified.
He was released Wednesday after court but has been subpoenaed to return.
According to police, MacDonald-Pose and Soule were riding motorcycles together the day of the fatal accident on I-5 near Rogue River. When they reached a curve, MacDonald-Pose is alleged to have lost control of his bike and collided with Soule, sending them both into the median and off the road.
Soule was declared dead at the scene, and MacDonald-Pose was transported for medical treatment.
Jackson, Bauer and their four children were on their way to Medford after a family outing when the accident occurred. Jackson was driving their Dodge Durango when a car came up from behind and flashed its front lights at them. He moved from the fast lane into the slower right lane, he testified.
At least two vehicles passed the witnesses’ vehicle before Soule, then MacDonald-Pose, were noticed by Jackson and Bauer in the fast lane. They heard the motorcycles approaching and described seeing the motorcycles flipping after colliding.
Jackson said he thought the defendant had suffered a heart attack while on his motorcycle that night.
Geil told jurors during his opening statement that an emergency responder said MacDonald-Pose “smelled of alcohol,” and that after he had received medical treatment his blood alcohol level was tested. The test, done within about four hours, registered a blood alcohol level of 0.074 — slightly below the legal limit of 0.08.
MacDonald-Pose had a prior DUI in 2010 and was riding the motorcycle the night of the accident without the proper license endorsement for one, Geil said.
During his opening statement, Lance said that because of conditions at the time of the accident the couple’s recollections might not be as accurate as prosecutors have asserted.
He said that Jackson might have caused the accident by veering into the lane where his client and Soule were riding. His client and the victim were best friends, Lance said.
Jackson denied that scenario, and Bauer said she didn’t see Jackson do anything to cause the accident.
The trial is scheduled to last three days.
Reach reporter Terri Harber at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-776-4468.