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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Former Minister Fatally Stabbed in Prison Cell

6-14-1994 Oklahoma:

OKLAHOMA CITY - Less than a month after being removed from protective custody, a former Presbyterian minister serving a 40-year prison sentence for lewd molestation and rape was stabbed to death in his cell.

At least two inmates have been implicated in the stabbing death of Robert Bruce Bridgen, 60, who was found at 7 p.m. Sunday in his cell at Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite.

He was pronounced dead on arrival at Elkview General Hospital in Hobart.

The two prisoners, who were not identified, and several other inmates also tied to the stabbing, were separated from the prison's general population shortly after the attack, prison spokesman Josh McCurdy said.

Bridgen originally was charged with 20 counts of lewd molestation and one count of rape by instrumentation stemming from acts involving girls age 4 to 14 who attended his Alva church.

He was convicted in June 1992 of eight counts of lewd molestation and one count of rape by instrumentation.

Trish States of Alva, whose daughter testified against Bridgen, said she was relieved at the news of the former minister's death. "I feel sorry for the family, don't get me wrong, but I'm glad Mr. Bridgen is gone because he can no longer do harm to any more children or any other innocent families," she said. "Right now I feel like whoever did this, I thank them for it because justice has been done."

Bridgen, who maintained his innocence, was appealing his conviction to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, said Ron W. Bittle, Bridgen's trial lawyer, of Alva. "The sad thing about this is I believe he had an excellent chance of getting a new trial," Bittle said.

McCurdy said at least two inmates entered Brigden's cell about 7 p.m. Sunday and stabbed him numerous times in the chest and legs. ..more.. by Barbara Hoberock

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