DA says bail could punish victim who was allegedly pushed off cliff by husband

Posted April 21, 2011, at 2:46 p.m.
Last modified April 21, 2011, at 7:15 p.m.
Charles Black
Photo courtesy of Penobscot County Jail
Charles Black

ROCKLAND, Maine — Bail set for a man accused of pushing his wife off a cliff in Camden Hills State Park could unfairly punish the victim in the case, an assistant district attorney is arguing.

Judge Patricia Worth ordered Charles Black, 68, of Camden to pay $240,000 surety bail on a charge of aggravated assault against his wife. Bail was set on April 19 after Black’s attorney, Walter McKee, argued that the Camden home Black and his wife share is worth just under $500,000. The $240,000 bail would allow Black to post his half of the home as surety, ensuring him a quick release from jail, McKee said.

But it’s unfair to put the victim, Lisa Black, at risk of having to sell her house if her husband doesn’t show for his court dates, Assistant District Attorney Chris Fernald argued in court motions Wednesday.

“If the defendant fails to appear in the future, a default would require the house to be sold to satisfy surety. This, in essence, would be punishing the victim for something [Charles Black] may do in the future,” Fernald wrote.

Fernald asked the judge to take the couple’s Camden home off the table as far as bail is concerned and to make Charles Black posts either cash or some other form of surety.

Instead of ruling immediately, Worth set a new bail hearing for Wednesday, April 27, at Knox County Superior Court when she will hear Fernald’s arguments.

Charles Black’s attorney told the Bangor Daily News on Thursday that he disagrees entirely with Fernald’s assessment of the situation.

“We absolutely object to this motion. There’s nothing new here. The state knew all of this before the hearing two days ago. They’ve had their bite at the apple. The apple isn’t on the table any more,” McKee wrote Thursday in an email response to a request for comment. “There is no punishment. They both own the house jointly.”

Further, McKee wrote, “Mr. Black is entitled to the presumption of innocence and he shouldn’t be incarcerated pending trial, especially in a case like this where there are more questions than answers about these allegations.”

Charles Black remained in Knox County Jail as of Thursday afternoon.

He was charged with aggravated assault after his 52-year-old wife told police that her husband smashed a rock into her head three times on April 7 before dragging her to the edge of Maiden Cliff on Mount Megunticook and then throwing her over.

Lisa Black fell a short distance, got up and started running down the mountain, according to police reports filed in court. As she ran down the mountain, Charles Black fell past her and appeared injured, she told police.

Lisa Black made it to the bottom of the mountain to a nearby road by 3:20 p.m., when a passer-by called police. She was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Several police agencies then searched for Charles Black for 3½ hours. After he was located, he too was brought to the Bangor hospital. Both were reported to be seriously injured.

Before she left the hospital, Lisa Black filed for and was granted a protection from abuse order against her husband. Charles Black was released from the hospital Friday, April 15, and promptly was arrested.

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