Defense appeals use of medical records in Maiden Cliff trial

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted Nov. 05, 2012, at 5:50 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The attorney for a man accused of trying to kill his wife by pushing her off Maiden Cliff last year has appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to prevent the prosecution’s use of his client’s medical records.

The appeal filed on behalf of 69-year-old Charles R. Black of Rockland means the trial will likely not be held as scheduled in December.

Meanwhile, on Friday, District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau filed a motion in court to compel the appearance of a witness when the trial is held. The motion states that the witness, Candice Flack Carter, 65, of Chicago, is believed to have been involved in an extramarital relationship with Charles Black and that they corresponded with each other several times through text messages and other electronic means.

“Evidence of the relationship is material as showing a motive for Charles Black’s crimes against his wife,” the prosecutor stated in his motion.

Defense attorney Walter McKee of Augusta, who has argued that Black has the right to keep his medical records confidential, is seeking swift action on his appeal.

“Substantial rights of the defendant will be irreparably lost if review is delayed,” he said.

The prosecution obtained Black’s records from Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor after he was taken there following the April 2011 incident at Maiden Cliff. The state obtained them through a search warrant but McKee has claimed the state did not follow proper procedures to allow that seizure to be challenged.

After McKee first raised objections about the state’s acquiring Black’s medical records, the prosecution placed those documents in a separate, sealed file, according to the defense attorney.

On Oct. 26, Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm allowed the prosecution to use the records during the criminal trial, but with some restrictions. At the same time, Hjelm ordered that the prosecution not look at the medical records for another 10 days to give McKee time to consider whether to file an appeal. Now the state will have to wait until a ruling on the appeal.

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.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/11/05/news/midcoast/defense-appeals-use-of-medical-records-in-maiden-cliff-trial/ printed on September 16, 2014