Judge refuses to dismiss case against man accused of pushing wife off cliff

By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff
Posted Oct. 26, 2012, at 5:46 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A man accused of trying to kill his wife last year by pushing her off Maiden Cliff in Camden failed this week to have his criminal charges dismissed on grounds that prosecution obtained his medical records improperly.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm, however, did place restrictions on the state’s ability to use those records at the criminal trial of 69-year-old Charles R. Black, which is scheduled to take place on Dec. 3 in Knox County Superior Court.

Black has pleaded not guilty to a July 2011 grand jury indictment of attempted murder, two counts of elevated aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of domestic violence assault.

According to the prosecution, Black and his then-wife, Lisa Black, were hiking in Camden Hills State Park in April 2011 when he struck his wife one or more times in the head with a rock, dragged her body to the edge of Maiden Cliff and pushed her over. 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 and was arrested a few days later after being released from Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

Police records from the time of Black’s arrest indicated that his wife recently had inherited $4 million and had told police that her husband was taking money without her permission. She also told officers that her husband had been having an online affair with a former girlfriend.

“I was disappointed that the judge did not dismiss the case, but I’m pleased that he has put the restrictions on that he has,” defense attorney Walt McKee said Friday afternoon, referring to the medical records. “These documents are all 100 percent privileged, because they are part of the physician-patient relationship.”

Prosecutor Chris Fernald declined to comment about the case.

“The court concludes that the state did not obtain the defendant’s medical records illegally,” Hjelm wrote in his nine-page order on the motion to suppress and dismiss, dated Oct. 24. “However, to the extent that information in the records is privileged, at trial the state may not present evidence that it obtained directly or indirectly from those records.”

According to McKee, after he raised his objections to the state’s use of Black’s medical records, the prosecution placed those documents in a separate, sealed file.

“The state tells us they have not seen them and will not look at them,” he said.

Hjelm wrote in his order that the state must continue to refrain from looking at Black’s medical records for 10 days from the date of his order, so that the defense can consider whether to file an appeal.

McKee said that he wasn’t sure if he would file an appeal.

“That would delay the trial,” he said.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/10/26/news/midcoast/judge-refuses-to-dismiss-case-against-man-accused-of-pushing-wife-off-cliff/ printed on November 21, 2014