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Repeated abuse sends 'caveman' to prison

Repeated abuse sends 'caveman' to prison

A man who repeatedly attacked his former girlfriend, at one point leaving the Rogue River woman unconscious, was sentenced to about a year in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court to multiple assault charges.

Judge Mark Schiveley compared Robert Francis Poole's violent acts against Jessica Bridges to those of a "caveman."

Poole, who is nearly 6 feet tall and weighs more than 200 pounds, had repeatedly acted out his rage against Bridges, who is 5 feet 2 inches tall. And he'd done so in front of her 5-year-old son, Angel, Schiveley said.

Poole and Bridges, both 28, also have an infant son together.

"There is no reason anyone should have to put up with this kind of violence, temper or lack of control," Schiveley said. "You pled guilty to three distinct episodes. "(Angel) saw them all."

Schiveley sentenced Poole to 15 months for each of three fourth-degree felony assault charges. The judge also ordered Poole to pay about $2,000 in fines and fees.

Per the terms of Poole's plea agreement, worked out by county prosecutor Eric Dames and Poole's defense attorney, Matt Taylor, the three sentences will run concurrently. Poole will be given credit for time served in jail since his arrest on Aug. 1.

Poole, 28, had been facing a total of 14 charges, ranging from assault to harassment to strangulation to tampering with a witness. The other 11 charges were dropped per the plea agreement.

Dames described Poole as a man "with a lot of good qualities" who has "a lot of anger in his heart." The plea agreement put a dangerous offender in prison and kept a 5-year-old off the witness stand, he said.

"I'm very happy," Dames said.

Poole's initial charges were related to a February incident that began while he was teaching Angel to ride a bike. Poole became frustrated and slapped the boy on the side of his helmet.

"Nothing to cause injury," Dames said.

A fight between Poole and Bridges ensued. Poole took Bridges inside their apartment, threw her on the couch, hit her in the face, and then put his hands over her nose and mouth cutting off her airways, Dames said.

In April, Poole racked up tampering and contempt charges for violating the court's no-contact orders and attempting to intimidate Bridges and her mother, Donna White, by sending threatening text messages via his cell phone.

On Aug. 1, Rogue River police arrested Poole after White insisted they perform a welfare check on her daughter because White had received a two-word text message plea for help from Bridges. Bridges later told police that Poole had "choked her out," then dragged her across the carpet before depositing her unconscious body behind closed bedroom doors.

Police made repeated trips to Bridges' apartment before they heard muffled sounds and demanded entry. Bridges let them in. Poole was hiding in the bathroom with Angel. When the officers demanded to see the boy, Poole fled out the bathroom window.

Poole was captured after police chased him down back alleys and side streets, and taken to jail on suspicion of attempted murder, kidnapping and other charges. The district attorney's office declined to file the Measure 11 charges after reviewing evidence, Dames said.

Schiveley said Poole would have been looking at "a lot of consecutive" time in an Oregon prison had he been found guilty in a jury trial.

Poole wept at the sentencing, but declined to make a statement to the court or to Bridges. Taylor told Schiveley that Poole had had "an emotional day in jail" Tuesday. Poole has previous felony drug convictions in California. He is possibly facing two years' prison time in that state for violating his parole, Taylor added.

Schiveley wished Bridges and her two sons good luck and a life free of violence before turning his attention back to Poole. Noting Poole's propensity for violence and his criminal history, Schiveley said, "I don't have a lot of hope for you."

Bridges said she and her son were prepared to testify against Poole had he not pleaded to the three felony assaults. But she said she was relieved Poole admitted his guilt because it meant her son would not have to testify.

"I'm just glad Angel didn't have to go in there," said Bridges, after the sentencing. "And it felt good to have (Poole) admit what he did. It felt good he owned up to it. Most (victims) don't get to hear that."

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

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