Judge rejects deal, hikes bail amount for Owls Head man

Posted Sept. 23, 2013, at 6:17 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A judge hiked bail Monday for a 49-year-old Owls Head man who was accused of asking a witness in a pending case to change his story.

Steven E. Clarke was arrested Friday afternoon after the potential witness contacted the victim witness advocate with the district attorney’s office. The man had witnessed actions of Clarke in a driving to endanger case, according to the prosecution.

Clarke was charged Friday with felony tampering with a witness.

At Monday’s bail hearing, the district attorney’s office announced an agreement with the defense to have Clarke plead guilty to the driving to endanger charge and be sentenced to 14 days in jail. In addition, the $2,000 in bail that had been posted for Clarke on the earlier charge could be applied to the $2,500 bail for the new tampering charge.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm, however, rejected the bail agreement.

Besides the charge of driving to endanger, Clarke also is awaiting trial on charges of burglary, aggravated criminal trespass and domestic violence assault.

The defense argued that the tampering charge was simply an allegation that he had tried to sway a witness and that Clarke has not missed a court appearance. However, Justice Hjelm said that Clarke making his court dates was not the issue.

“What is an issue is the protection of the integrity of the judicial system,” Hjelm said, pointing out that there also are witnesses in the other cases.

Hjelm said the affidavit filed by police was enough for him to set bail at $5,000 cash.

According to police reports from May, Clarke broke into the Cushing home of Kevin Crute, assaulted a woman who was in the home, and broke a window and lamp. He was charged with driving to endanger in connection with an incident that happened two days later in Rockland.

Clarke was still being held at the Knox County Jail late Monday afternoon.

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