Camden man accused of pushing wife off cliff released on bail

Posted April 26, 2011, at 1:21 p.m.
Last modified April 27, 2011, at 5:45 p.m.
Charles R. Black, of Camden.
Photo courtesy of Knox County Jail | Knox County Jail
Charles R. Black, of Camden.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The Camden man accused of pushing his wife off a mountain was released from jail Wednesday after he posted their home as bail. But his bail is in danger of being revoked as the District Attorney’s Office argues that using the home as collateral might unfairly punish the alleged victim.

Charles Black, 68, of Camden was to appear in court Wednesday to discuss the use of his home to meet bail, but because his lawyer was tied up in another trial in Kennebec County, a judge on Tuesday postponed the hearing to May 3.

At an April 19 hearing Judge Patricia Worth ordered Black to pay $240,000 surety bail on a charge of aggravated assault against his wife. At that time Black’s attorney, Walter McKee, successfully argued then that the Camden home Black and his wife share is worth just under $500,000 and the $240,000 bail would allow Black to post his half of the home as surety, ensuring him a quick release from jail.

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 later that week.

“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 in Knox County Superior Court documents.

McKee responded to Fernald’s arguments in court filings Monday. The state knew that the house was joint property at the last bail hearing and said nothing at the time, McKee argued.

McKee referred to Fernald’s request to take the jointly owned home off the table for bail as a “change of heart” that is “without any merit.” Further, McKee argued that Maine law dictates a change of bail can happen only if there is new information or a sudden change of circumstances, which there is not in this case.

If the judge retroactively decides Black can’t use the home as bail, Black could be sent back to jail or given time to find a new source of surety, according to Fernald.

Black’s 52-year-old wife, Lisa, told police that her husband smashed her head with a rock three times while they were on a hike 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, which is in Camden Hills State Park, 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. April 7, 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 arrested as he was being released from the hospital on Friday, April 15.

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