Violent offender objects to prosecutor whom he assaulted

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted May 21, 2012, at 6:05 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A 47-year-old Owls Head man with a lengthy record of violence was back in court Monday after he was arrested for threatening to kill a group of people Saturday night in downtown Rockland.

In court on Monday afternoon, Steven E. Clarke initially objected to the presence of a prosecutor who the defendant had assaulted eight years earlier.

Judge Susan Sparaco set bail at $5,000 cash for Clarke on charges of criminal threatening, terrorizing, violating a condition of release and driving to endanger.

At his initial court appearance Monday on the new charges, Clarke repeatedly spoke after being advised by his attorney Jeremy Pratt and Sparaco not to make statements.

“I don’t believe I did anything wrong,” Clarke said.

According to a report filed in court by Rockland police Sgt. Anthony Camporiale, police went to the Rankin Block in downtown Rockland about 10:30 p.m. after a 911 hang-up call to the Knox County Regional Communications Center. Upon arrival, they found a van with a man behind the wheel, three women and an infant. The women were screaming and crying, according to the police report.

The occupants told police that they were traveling when Clarke spotted them and drove ahead and then swerved in front of them, causing a collision. Clarke then got out of his car, went to the van, beat on it and threatened to kill the adults. In the car was his infant son, according to the police report.

Knox County Sgt. Michael Sprague found Clarke a short time later on Park Street. Clarke told Sprague that the van had struck him from behind.

Clarke was arrested and taken to the Knox County Jail in Rockland. A small bag suspected of containing bath salts was found on him, according to police. The ingredients were to be tested.

Clarke was on bail after agreeing in January to a deferred disposition on assault and disorderly conduct charges. He was to serve no more than six months in jail under the agreement if he refrained from criminal conduct for a year. The district attorney’s office filed motions to revoke bail on those charges, which stem from incidents in 2011.

In February 2003, Clarke escaped from the Knox County Courthouse while in custody after a door to the holding room was left unlocked. He later was captured and while in court in April 2003 for that charge, he attacked Assistant District Attorney Chris Fernald. Clarke was convicted of assault in that case as well as another involving assault on an officer.

In his court hearing Monday in Rockland District Court, Clarke said he felt uncomfortable having Fernald prosecute his case because of their history. Fernald had informed the judge before the hearing about the incident and said in court that he was there only because no other prosecutor was available Monday afternoon. Fernald also said that the bail recommendation of $5,000 cash was suggested by his colleagues in the district attorney’s office. He said he would not be handling the case after the initial hearing.

Clarke then agreed to have the hearing continue but repeatedly interjected comments during the proceedings.

“I’m about to lose everything I have because of this. I’m trying to help my son. It’s just not fair,” Clarke said.

He later told the judge that if he can’t make the $1,000 cash bail set by a bail commissioner he would not be able to make the $5,000 cash bail.

In paperwork filed in court in 2011 by Clarke in order to qualify for a court-appointed attorney, Clarke claimed he was disabled and had applied for Social Security disability. He was found to be indigent.

Sparaco warned Clarke again about speaking.

“I’m not talking to you anymore, talk through your attorney,” she said.

Clarke can appeal the bail amount at a later hearing.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/05/21/news/midcoast/violent-offender-objects-to-prosecutor-whom-he-assaulted/ printed on July 24, 2014