CORINTH, Maine — A local man died of asphyxiation early Sunday at the home of his estranged wife as two men restrained him after he burst into the residence armed with a box cutter, according to police.
Christopher G. Darner, 37, who was barred by court order from contacting his wife, went in the back door of the 87 Beans Mill Road residence around 2:30 a.m. after using baby monitoring equipment to listen to what was going on inside the dwelling, Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said Monday in a press release.
Searsport resident Kirt Damon Jr., 24, one of the men who was inside the home, was stabbed twice by Darner during the incident.
Darner died while Damon and Belfast resident Zachary Joseph, 21, were restraining him, Damon said.
Joseph “witnessed the stabbing and came to the aid of his friend by putting Darner in a choke hold,” McCausland said.
The medical examiner ruled Darner’s death a homicide from “asphyxia due to compression of the neck,” McCausland said in the press release.
“It’s all craziness,” Damon said Monday in a telephone interview. “I wish he hadn’t died.
“There was a lot of struggling,” Damon said, his voice breaking with emotion at points. “We were trying to restrain him. We knew if he got up he would kill us.”
No one has been charged in connection with the death and investigators are considering self-defense and defense of a third person as possible motives, McCausland said.
“Investigators say Darner, who had a protection order filed against him by his wife, had entered the house sometime Saturday and rigged the baby monitoring equipment to allow him to be able to watch and hear the occupants from a nearby cornfield,” McCausland said.
Damon described the altercation that occurred after Darner came in the home.
“He tried to punch me so I ducked and grabbed him and tried to hold him down,” Damon said. “He was kicking me and I didn’t know he had a knife in his hand until I looked down and I was bleeding.”
Damon suffered a 2- to 3-inch cut on his neck near his Adam’s apple, and a larger cut on the right side of his chest that required 15 staples to close, Damon said.
Damon posted on his Facebook page that Joseph saved his life, and said Monday that he believes he would have died if his longtime friend had not been with him.
Damon said he was visiting Darner’s wife, who he met on Facebook, for the first time. Damon and his friend were inside the home when Darner started making a barrage of calls to his estranged wife.
“He kept calling and making threats,” Damon said. “She has a protection order against him and he’s not suppose to call her [except to talk about the kids]. They were in court the day before.”
Darner kicked in the back door shortly after Damon said he kissed the man’s wife in the kitchen. The enraged Darner went directly for Damon, the injured man said.
After realizing he was cut, “I lost it there,” Damon said. “I screamed, ‘He stabbed me,’ and Zach jumped in to help.”
While both men were holding Darner down, Damon said he grabbed the box cutter out of Darner’s hand and threw it across the room.
Then, Damon said, he started to get lightheaded and dizzy.
“I was panicking. Blood was coming out of me,” he said. “I crawled over and was [up against the counter] and Zach restrained him until he stopped moving. My friend took me over to the cupboard, and he was holding a towel against my throat to stop the blood.
“He was saying, ‘You’re not going to die on me tonight, you’re not going to die,’” Damon said. “It was very, very scary. [Darner] came in to kill me, that was very clear. Zach saved my life. If Zach hadn’t been there I would be dead right now.”
A message left for Joseph on Monday afternoon was not immediately returned.
Damon said that he is worried about his friend.
“Physically he’s fine, but he’s distraught,” the injured man said. “He watched his friend get stabbed and it was never our intention for [Darner] to die. It happened so quick and everything was so overwhelming.”
Court records show that Darner had a temporary protection from abuse order placed against him Aug. 30 after he allegedly put his 22-year-old wife into a chokehold. The two were in court on Friday in front of District Court Judge Everett Fowle for a protection from abuse hearing. Darner had filed a Sept. 5 motion to dissolve the temporary protection order.
Fowle continued the protection from abuse order until March 2014 and ordered that Darner immediately turn over all his firearms. Court records do not indicate if Darner, a convicted felon, had firearms or turned any over to police. The judge allowed Darner two visits a week with the couple’s two young children and said he could telephone his wife to discuss the children.
Darner’s estranged wife, who gave birth to the couple’s second child in July, told the judge that her husband had “relapsed into drugs,” and was using crack cocaine, the court-approved protection order states.
“He comes home in the night, takes items out of our home, drains the bank account and on 8/30/13 he came up behind me and put me in a headlock and squeezed,” the woman wrote in the court documents.
“I called police and because there were no marks left he was not arrested,” she wrote. “He was asked to leave my residence.”
He was not allowed at the residence at 87 Beans Mill Road, or anywhere near his wife’s school, business or place of employment, the court documents state.
Darner had five violation of protective order convictions on his record involving another woman, including a reckless violation of a protective order, according to a representative at the Penobscot County district attorney’s office.
Darner was convicted of three counts of violating a protective order, five counts of violating conditions of his release and assault in February 2005 and was sentenced to 30 days in jail for each count, according to BDN archives.
He was convicted of reckless violation of a protective order, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and violating his bail conditions in July 2005, which resulted in concurrent jail sentences of four years with all but nine months suspended and probation for two years, the BDN archives state. The felony conviction means Darner would not have been allowed to possess firearms.
Darner also was convicted of obstructing the report of a crime and assault at the same time, which resulted in sentences of 60 days in jail.
In November 2005, he was convicted of another violating a protective order charge and was ordered to serve another six months in jail, the archives state.
The two friends involved in Darner’s death said Monday they are still in shock about what happened but are relieved that the man’s wife is safe, “because he was threatening her too,” Damon said.
“I feel so bad for those little kids,” he said. “I wish none of this had happened.”