Widow: Men involved in death of estranged husband shouldn’t be charged

87 Beans Mill Road in Corinth.
Gabor Degre | BDN
87 Beans Mill Road in Corinth.
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 17, 2013, at 3:54 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — The 22-year-old widow of a Corinth man who died of asphyxiation early Sunday after he burst into her home in a jealous rage armed with a box cutter said she doesn’t believe the two men who grappled with him should be charged in his death.

Dressed in jeans and a black top, Miranda Darner sat on a curb at Belfast City Park on Tuesday and told the story of how her deceased husband, Christopher G. Darner, 37, chose drugs over her and their two young children and how things turned violent in the end.

“This is definitely my husband’s fault,” she said, twisting the wedding bands he gave her three years ago. “He’s had a drug issue since January. It is the most terrible thing in the world to happen. That was my kids’ home and my home.”

Her husband, who used a baby monitor to keep tabs on what was happening in the Corinth home they once shared, came in through the back door of the Beans Mill Road residence around 2:30 a.m. Sunday and twice stabbed Kirt Damon Jr., 24, of Searsport, Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said Monday in a press release.

Darner, who was barred by court order from contacting his wife, died while Damon and Belfast resident Zachary Joseph, 21, were restraining him, Damon said.

“I didn’t know he had a knife in his hand until I looked down and I was bleeding,” Damon said Monday.

Joseph “witnessed the stabbing and came to the aid of his friend by putting Darner in a choke hold,” McCausland said.

Miranda Darner said she sent Damon a text message after the incident to find out if he was OK. The two had recently met on Facebook and Damon was at her house for the first time when the incident occurred.

“He sent one brief text saying, ‘I’m so sorry. It’s all my fault.’ I sent him one saying it’s not his fault,” she said.

Darner said she blames herself for the night’s events.

“If I hadn’t invited them up, this never would have happened,” Darner said, referring to Damon and Joseph.

Court documents filed in a protection order request state her husband was using crack cocaine and had put her in a choke hold on Aug. 30.

“He had never, ever been physical at all with me until the 30th,” she said Tuesday.

Her husband had a history of drug use but had been clean and sober when they started dating four years ago, she said.

Christopher Darner also had a history of domestic abuse involving another woman in 2005. His police record includes five violation of protective order convictions and an assault conviction. He spent nearly two years in jail for those and other crimes.

Miranda Darner said she was aware of his troubled past with another woman, but not the extent of his history of violence.

“Our whole relationship was great,” she said.

That started to change around Mother’s Day 2012, when a friend who previously had lived with the couple fatally overdosed on pills.

“My husband took it hard,” she said.

Darner said she never was into drugs and didn’t hang out with drug users so she didn’t recognize the signs that her husband was using drugs again — money taken from their bank account, items missing out of the house, him staying out all hours of the night and then losing his job.

She eventually learned to recognize in his eyes when he smoked crack cocaine, she said, and started to lock the door. She told the judge during her protection order hearing that she had been trying to fix the marriage for more than eight months, but he continued to use drugs.

“There is no doubt in my mind that he loved my kids and loved me too,” the young mother of two said. “Something [last year] made him snap.”

Police were called on numerous occasions over the last year, including Aug. 30, but he was never arrested for drug possession “because he never had it on him,” she said.

“I called police [on Aug. 30] and because there were no marks left [on me] he was not arrested,” she wrote in the request for the protection order. “He was asked to leave my residence.”

When the protection-from-abuse order was granted, he was not allowed at her residence but was allowed to call her if it was about the children, court documents state.

She has not told her daughters, ages 2 years and 2 months, that their father is dead because they are too young to understand, but said when they are old enough, she’ll start the story by telling them that he loved them.

She said she truly believed that the protection-from-abuse order that was extended on Friday would protect her.

“I got a protection order and it was my birthday the Wednesday before but I didn’t get to do anything and I wanted to hang out with friends,” the widow said. “He was so agreeable at court. I didn’t think anything would happen. Now I know it can happen to anybody at any second.”

Darner said she watched in horror on Sunday as her husband burst into the residence and attacked Damon.

“He had the key to the back door. He came flying up the hallway into my kitchen and went straight for [Damon],” she said. “I instantly screamed, ‘I’m calling 911’ but I got knocked down between them on the floor and got a cut on my thumb and index finger that I didn’t notice until I got outside — everything just happened so fast.

“Zach grabbed my hand and lifted me up off the floor [and] I called 911,” she said. “911 couldn’t hear me so I had to keep leaving the room. I was not in the kitchen when everything took place. I heard Kirt screaming, ‘I’ve been stabbed, I’ve been stabbed.’”

She said she returned to the kitchen after hearing Damon’s screams for help and “I saw Zach with his arms around Chris’ body. I never once saw Kirt holding him down.”

The young widow said she doesn’t know how much time passed while she was on the 911 call or between when she hung up and when police arrived at her rural home.

By then, she and Joseph were trying to stop Damon’s bleeding by holding towels to the cuts on his throat and stomach, and Joseph was telling Damon, “‘You’re not going to die on me tonight, you’re not going to die.’”

Damon said in a phone interview Monday that he and Joseph were just trying to restrain Darner and did not mean for him to die.

“We knew if he got up he would kill us,” Damon said.

No one has been charged in connection with Darner’s death and investigators are considering self-defense and defense of a third person as possible motives, McCausland said.

“We are still investigating this,” McCausland said Tuesday. “Nothing has changed since yesterday.”

A lot has changed, however, for Miranda Darner.

“When the officer came in I asked if Chris was OK and he said, ‘He’s gone,’” Darner said. “It was all so sudden. I guess I’m still in shock. I keep hoping I will wake up and this is just a dream.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/09/17/news/bangor/widow-says-no-charges-should-be-filed-against-men-involved-in-deadly-encounter-with-her-estranged-husband/ printed on July 30, 2014