Judge: Man accused of pushing wife off cliff can use jointly owned home for bail

Posted May 05, 2011, at 5:01 p.m.
Charles R. Black
Photo courtesy of Knox County Jail
Charles R. Black
Charles Black in Rockland District Court on April 19.
Charles Black in Rockland District Court on April 19.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A Camden man accused of pushing his wife off a mountain remains free on bail after a Superior Court justice ruled in his favor, according to documents released Thursday.

Charles Black, 68, in late April posted the house he and his wife both own as collateral to meet the $240,000 surety bail set after he was charged with aggravated assault. But his bail was in danger of being revoked after the District Attorney’s Office argued that using the home as collateral might unfairly punish the alleged victim.

Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm decided, however, that because Black owns the home jointly with his wife, he is allowed to post it as bail. Hjelm also pointed out that the District Attorney’s Office knew the home was jointly owned at the first bail hearing in mid-April and did not bring up any arguments against it then. Assistant District Attorney Chris Fernald filed his motions to reconsider the bail the day after the bail hearing. Bail may be amended only if there is new, important information, Hjelm wrote in his ruling.

If Black does not show up for any of his court dates, the house now would have to be sold to recoup the bail amount, effectively kicking the alleged victim out of her home.

Fernald also had tried to argue that if the couple divorced before the trial was over, Charles Black might no longer have any right to the home. That might be true, Hjelm replied in his order, but for now, the house is half Black’s, so he may post it. It would be premature to try to figure out how assets would be divided, Hjelm wrote.

Had the judge decided Black couldn’t use the home as bail, Black would have been sent back to jail or given time to find a new source of surety, according to Fernald.

Black is charged with aggravated assault stemming from an April 7 incident when, his wife, Lisa, 52, told police, he smashed her head with a rock three times while they were on a hike, dragged her to the edge of Maiden Cliff on Mount Megunticook and pushed her over.

Lisa Black fell a short distance, got up and started running down the mountain 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 that afternoon, 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 — which was dismissed recently because bail restrictions already prevent Charles Black from contacting the woman. Charles Black was arrested as he was being released from the hospital on Friday, April 15.

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