Man accused of pushing wife off Camden cliff wants charges dropped

Posted Sept. 05, 2012, at 2:32 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 05, 2012, at 10:27 p.m.
Charles R. Black
Knox County Jail
Charles R. Black

ROCKLAND, Maine — A 69-year-old man accused of trying to kill his wife by pushing her off Maiden Cliff in Camden last year has asked a judge to throw out the charges, claiming the prosecution improperly obtained his medical records.

Charles R. Black is charged with attempted murder, two counts of elevated aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of domestic violence assault. Black has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm listened to arguments Wednesday in Knox County Superior Court from defense attorney Walter McKee and District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau in the case.

McKee is challenging the district attorney’s office decision to obtain 540 pages of Black’s medical records with a search warrant. The defense attorney said medical records are confidential and that there is a separate procedure allowed for the prosecution to seek such records, which was not followed. He said that the defense was not given an opportunity to object to the seizure of the medical records as is allowed by the procedure he referenced.

As such, McKee has asked Hjelm to dismiss the charges or, if not, to exclude anything in the records from a potential future trial.

Hjelm questioned the prosecutor on why these records were not protected from review by the state as are correspondence between an attorney and a client. Rushlau said that the client/attorney privilege is so special that it has greater protection.

The prosecutor said it was important to get Black’s medical records to see what happened to him during the April 7, 2011, incident. Rushlau said neither he nor any assistant district attorney has looked at the records. The only employee who has is the department’s investigator.

According to police reports filed in court to obtain an arrest warrant last year, the alleged offenses occurred at Maiden Cliff atop Mount Megunticook. The couple had lived in Camden but Charles Black has been barred from the residence and is living in Rockland since his arrest.

The state claims Black struck his wife, Lisa, one or more times in the head with a rock, dragged her body to the edge of the cliff and pushed her off the mountain. Black told police he had passed out and fallen forward, striking the back of his wife’s head with his head, according to the police report.

Lisa Black fell a short distance, but then got up and managed to make it down to the bottom of the mountain, where she was spotted by a passing motorist. She was taken to the hospital.

Charles Black was found injured after a subsequent search. He was arrested a few days later after he was released from Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

His wife recently had inherited $4 million and she told police that her husband had been taking her money without her permission, according to police reports. The wife also maintained that Charles Black had been having an online affair with a former girlfriend from Arizona.

He was indicted in July 2011.

The prosecution also has maintained that Black attempted to injure his wife on March 17 and March 24, 2011. In one of those earlier incidents, according to police reports, Charles Black climbed a ladder to the couple’s attic. When his wife was on the ladder, he fell on her with all his weight and later claimed he had passed out, according to the report. In the other incident, the couple was on Mount Battie and she was hit from behind by her husband. He claimed to her that he had passed out in that instance as well, according to police.

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